Barbara Branden

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About Barbara Branden

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  • Birthday 05/14/1929

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    Barbara Branden
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    Barbara Branden is a writer, lecturer, and author of the best-selling biography The Passion of Ayn Rand (Doubleday, 1986). An M.A. in philosophy (New York University), she was for eighteen years a close associate of Ayn Rand, the managing editor of The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist, and executive vice-president of the Nathaniel Branden Institute in New York, where she wrote and lectured on the philosophy of Objectivism.
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    The Lepers of Objectivism Thoughts On Aging Enough is Enough! Objectivism's Plague Objectivism and Rage The Passion of Barbara Branden The Psychology of Suicide Bombers Who is Michael Stuart Kelly? The Moral Antagonism of Capitalism and Socialism (1959) Capitalism and Religion (1962) Barbara Branden Reviews.... (Reviews of books and movies that were published in The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, Academic Associates’ Book News, and Libertarian Review, between 1962 and 1975) Planned Chaos by Ludwig von Mises (January 1962, [i]Objectivist Newsletter) The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn (December 1962, Objectivist Newsletter The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (Summer 1969, Academic Associates Book News #1) The Art of Making Sense by Lionel Ruby (Fall 1969, AABN #2) The Greek Experience by C. M. Bowra (Holiday 1969, AABN #3) Thinking as a Science by Henry Hazlitt (Holiday 1969, AABN #3) Chinatown & Deathwish in “Cinema in Review” (October 1974, Libertarian Review) Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram (October 1975, Libertarian Review)
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  1. Jerry Biggers wrote: "I fondly recall a presidential campaign address that he gave at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago in the fall of 1972. It took a lot of guts for him to agree to be the first Presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, which certainly would have been looked upon disapprovingly by his academic peers. It certainly did not advance his status among fellow academics (although by that time, he was already well-established and was Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Southern California). He also authored Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow around that time." Jerry, despite his many accomplishments and his remarkable gifts as a teacher who was beloved by his students, John paid dearly for his espousal of libertarianism. He was forced to retire from USC at the age of 65. There was no question in his mind that his dismissal was the result of his political convictions. (Other teachers of the same age were not compelled to retire.) John loved teaching above all else, and it broke his heart to have to abandon it. It was a pain that never went away, and he would often refer to it as the great tragedy of his life. But he was not forgotten. James Kilbourne and I hosted a party for John on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and I made it known in advance that words of congratulation could be e-mailed to me, to be read to John at the party. E-mails poured in, not just from friends and colleagues but from John's students from 30, 40, 50 years ago, thanking him for the inestimable value this brilliant and caring man had contributed to their lives. Barbara
  2. Good grief! I've rarely heard such gibberish. The whole thing is almost completely unintelligible. It sounds as if the present recession -- and the abysmal state of the worlld in general -- was caused by Ayn's disastrously mistaken view of computers, by her insistence that they would make government and government regulations unnecessary and would turn us all into "Randian heroes." This is, or course, utter nonsense.. Ayn had no such view of computers. In fact , she had no view of computers at all. She died before they had begun to be a part of our daily lives. I doubt if she ever saw a computer, much less used one or philosophized about their effects. By the way. if parts of what I said made no sense, it's because you were hearing excerpts from my answers but not the questions I was answering. For the record, I do not believe that we don't need other people in our lives, that we can be perfectly happy totally alone. Nor did Rand believe it. Barbara .
  3. [ Michael, you say you don't care whether Obama takes back his statements about Israel or not. If, as you have said, you stand with Israel, I think you don't fully grasp what Obama is demanding-- or you would care very much indeed. Obama is flying in the face of the commitments of American administrations for more than 60 years, and is demanding that Israel sit down with enemies who deny its right to exist, in order to negotiate the precise manner of its suicide. Please, read the Pajamas comment:'s statement And read the Israel Nationsl News comment: You say that the only thing that concerns you is whether this is going to lead to war. It may do so -- if Israel refuses to allow Jews to undergo a new Holocaust. Who, then, will be to blame for the bloodshed? Barbara
  4. This pretty well sums up my feelings, but there are different kinds of innocence. I think the innocence you are talking about here is the innocence fostered and made possible by both ignorance and a giant country buffered by the two major oceans. Aside from the lives lost on 9/11 and consequent to that, that ignorance is purblind superficiality by a populace that refuses to see and understand the world they are living in absent the needed critical thinking and education. How many Americans can make a coherent statement about Marines killing Filipinos over a hundred years ago in a pacification campaign that washed over high multiples of 10,000 murdered people? The expansionist imperialistic impulse that has informed Americans and America since the beginning pushed through to the Pacific Ocean and kept on going to these very days. It is not the imperialism of ancient Rome or the British Empire or European colonialism, it is the imperialism of power and self-justifying pat-ourselves-on-the-back-for-we-are-the-good-guys making-the-world-a-better-place. The push-back on American power has just begun as the interior weakens. That's all it ever has been--power relationships. Power pushes against power until it has no power to push further, then countervailing power creates temporary stasis between countries or regions and the readjustments begin. --Brant it's about freedom when we talk about freedom and individual rights knowing what we are talking about Brant, by American innocence, I was referring to a phenomenon I became aware of not many years after I moved here from Canada. I was referring to the fact that Americans, for the most part, did not fully believe in the existence of evil. Unlike Europeans, they had never been enslaved, starved, or terrorized by it, and it seemed to stand in their minds as something not quite real. I found this phenomenon -- which at that time I shared -- both touching, because it told me that Americans themselves tended to be invincibly decent -- and dangerous, because not to recognize the reality of evil is to be helpless to combat it. At most, Americans seemed to believe that evil existed somewhere overseas-- in Nazi Germany or Russia -- but not in America, not in people they knew and dealt with and could understand. And certainly not in the government brought into existence by the wisdom and moral integrity of our Founding Fathers. Over the years, I saw American innocence slowly eroding. For myself, this erosion began as I started reading about the Holocaust, which I had been too young to understand during World War II, and about the Americans who had helped finance Hitler. Particularly, Roosevelt's refusal to grant asylum to the passengers of the St.Louis, the German ship of over 900 Jews fleeing from the Third Reich, had made me understand that good and evil were engaged in a mortal combat and that I had to take sides, that "silence in the face of evil is itself evil." For Americans, I believe the events of 9/11 struck a final blow to the remnants of their innocence. I wish the world were such that this hadn't been necessary. But, of course. . . All this may seem strange coming from someone who is constantly telling Objectivists to be slow in their condemnations, and to be very certain of their ground before ascribing evil intentions to those who disagree with them. But this is not a contradiction. There is nothing worse one can say about a human being than that he is evil; such a damnation should be reserved for the Hitlers and bin Ladens of the world and their fellow travelers - not for our neighbor who believes he should be his brother's keeper. Barbara
  5. Michael, I am more touched by and grateful for your words that I know how to say. Thank you, my dear friend. If I helped you at a bad time in your life, that is a great reward for me. And my thanks to Jerry and Xray and Adam and to all those whose good wishes helped to make this a very happy birthday for me. Barbara
  6. Michael, I cannot understand how you can say that Obama has good intentions for this country in his heart, or that “he sees himself as belonging to the same American family as his political enemies.” Is that the family of Louis Farråkhan, of Bill Ayres, of the Reverend Wright? Is that the family that is selling Israel down the river and sanctioning the terrorist-organized and carefully-coordinated uprisings in the Arab World? This is the man who stands before the American public and tells one barefaced, blatant lie after another -- the man who surrounds himself with and seeks the advice of only the radical left and worse -- the man who pays American taxpayers’ money to subsidize offshore drilling by Brazil, but expects America to continue functioning by the grace of windmills – who is further enslaving the medical doctors on whom our lives depend -- who redistributes the earnings of the producers so that the non-producers will continue to vote for him – the man who is spending and manipulating the greatest country on earth into helplessness and ruin --the man who speaks of ':social justice" " but never of freedom. ... I could go on and on, but you know the facts probably as well as I do. . What on earth would Obama have to do to convince you that he and George Washington do not belong to the same American family-- that he is, at best, a cheap Chicago left-wing politician who cares only that he get re-elected to a position he is grotesquely unequipped for -- yet doesn’t take even that position seriously enough to read Economics 101. Barbara
  7. I have no objection to people celebrating bin Laden's death -- although some of the college kids, too young to have witnessed the horror of 9/11 as it was happening, made me feel uncomfortably as if pretty cheerleaders and a marching band soon would appear -- but as I listened to the news last night and today, I have not felt like celebrating. i am glad that bin Laden is dead; he was a monster who was polluting the earth with his presence. And I have only admiration for the courage and consummate efficiency of the Navy Seals who did the job. But I have been feeling enormous sadness -- not because a cockroach has been stamped on and destroyed, but because it had ever lived, because such evil had breathed the air I breathe and felt the warmth of the same sun. I kept remembering 9/11, the end of whatever innocence Americans had still possessed. I kept remembering, especially, what has remained with me ever since as the scene that captures the essence of that terrible day: individuals and couples holding hands, leaping from their windows in the burning towers. The only real justice the 3,000 victims of 9/11 could receive would be to have their lives restored to them. And that no one can give them. Barbara
  8. Dennis, Anne Heller is correct. There is no reference in Rand's will to Peikoff being her intellectual heir. Barbara
  9. Barbara, your saying this touched me, and reminded me of what had consciously gone through my mind late last week. And which I haven't seen anyone say, and which — even with the intimation of mortality — has to be said: I am delighted that this finally came to the big screen while you — and Nathaniel — were here to see it and to be swept up in it. It should have been possible for the author herself to have been sitting beside the two of you. And now, tomorrow, after my submitting for the time being to the firepower of the State (filing tax returns), I go off to a matinee showing of a movie that exemplifies the opposite. (With the company of Neil Schulman, as it happens.) I'll next post, after my own wait of a mere third of a century, my own reaction. Thank you, Steve. You'll be glad to know that Nathaniel -- who was with me Friday night -- reacted to the movie just as I did. It means a great deal to both of us. And almost the first thing I said to my friends when the movie ended was, :"How I wish Ayn could have seen it!" Barbara
  10. I saw the movie for the second time on Friday. It probably is against the law -- and certainly a sin -- to have as good a time as I had. It was playing in Westwood Village, a college town, and the audience was predominantly young people -- with a mix that was fascinating to me of onetime NBI students. What a strange feeling it was to see so many familiar faces from so very long ago! The house was completely sold out for the 7PM performance that I attended and for the 9:40 performance that followed. It was a joy to see a long line of people waiting to get in for both performances. Clearly, the audience I saw it with loved the movie -- and at the end, the manager came out grinning from ear to ear to announce that it would run for two weeks. After the performance, I stood outside the theater with some friends and with some of the NBI students, and we simply gloated happily and talked about our favorite scenes. None of us wanted to leave. I don't intend to argue with anyone about the movie or to defend it or to think about what may be its deficiencies. What I care about is that I watched the first run of the John Galt Line, and it was not 2011, it was 1950 and I was sitting in Ayn's living room reading the incredible scene in manuscript with tears running down my face -- and the world was a place of limitless possibilities. And that's what it was again on Friday night. And it remains so. Barbara
  11. Robert, Vallant insists here that Rand never threatened to withhold Nathaniel's copyrights to his articles published in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. She did indeed. I have a proposed contract which Hank Holzer, Rand's lawyer, sent to Nathaniel's and my lawyer. The proposed contract was to be between The Objectivist and Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, to be signed by Ayn Rand as President of The Objectivist and by Nathaniel and Barbara. (Our lawyer, who was appalled by this contract, also has a copy of it in his files.) It specifies that in return for the assignment to Nathaniel of the copyrights to his articles, we promise not to sue Rand or her associates, and that: “Neither [NB or BB] will in writing, by sound reproduction, or publicly, make or cause to be made any statement or comment concerning the article ‘To Whom It May Concern’ by Ayn Rand and the statement entitled ‘For The Record’ by Allan Blumenthal, Alan Greenspan, Leonard Peikoff and Mary Ann (Rukavina) Sures, both of which appeared in the May 1968 issue of The Objectivist.” And: “Neither will in writing, by sound reproduction, or publicly, make or cause to be made any derogatory statement concerning either’s personal, professional or business relationship prior to the date hereof with Ayn Rand O’Connor, Frank O’Connor, Henry Mark Holzer, Phyllis (Erika) Holzer, Charles Sures, Mary Ann (Rukavina) Sures, Allan Blumenthal. Joan Blumenthal, Elayne Kalberman, Harry Kalberman, Leonard Peikoff, Alan Greenspan, and The Objectivist, Inc.” In other words, in order for Nathaniel to receive his own property, we were to allow ourselves to be attacked and defamed, and in perpetuity were not to say a word in our defense. Barbara
  12. None. Barbara
  13. I saw the musical version of Les Miserables on Broadway shortly after it opened. I loved it. As you said, Phl, it was stirring, moving, and powerful- with a depth and passion one rarely sees on Broadway. For the tenth anniversary of the musical, at its conclusion, seventeen Jean Valjeans from seventeen different countries where it was being performed, came on stage to sing "Do You hear the People Sing? It was thrilling. Barbara
  14. Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see. Best for the New Year, REB Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done? Mary, since my family and I moved from SoCal to Tennessee last summer, I have heard very little from Barbara, and nothing in several months. I have not heard that she is seriously ill, and my wife spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she seemed all right over the phone. SO FAR AS I KNOW, there is nothing to report about Barbara's publishing plans. If I hear anything about which I am not sworn to secrecy, rest assured that I will post it here! The original lectures have all been transcribed, so it is really up to Barbara whether she wants to publish them as is, or to revise them first, as well as whether to add some additional material on new, but related topics. She ~was~ interested in having Cobden Press publish her book, since Cobden also published Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand book last year. I don't know what she would need in the way of help we might give her. Becky (my wife) and I discussed several lectures with her, offering suggestions and seeking clarification on some points. But I think that she is simply working on her own time frame, and we will just have to be patient. REB Roger and Mary Lee: My work on the Efficient Thinking lectures has been slowed up both by illness and by other projects that I couldn't pass up.. But part of my brain is always working on the lectures, and as soon as I can, I'll get back to them. Barbara
  15. Atlas Shrugged, Part I, the movie I am delighted, overwhelmed, and stunned. Yesterday, I saw Atlas Shrugged, Part I, the movie. In advance, I was tense and worried. What if it was terrible? In that case, no one would consider a remake for years, if ever. I didn't think it would be terrible, especially after I saw a clip from the film: the scene where Rearden comes home to his family after the first pouring of Rearden Metal. The scene was very good indeed. But. . . . The movie is not so-so, it is not OK, it is not rather good -- it is spectacularly good. I won't go into detail; for this, see David Kelley's review, with which I am in agreement ( -- except that he rather understates the film's virtues. The script is excellent, as is the acting. The music is first rate, and immensely adds to the tension that the action and the tempo of the film create. Visually, it is very beautiful. And wait until you experience the first run of the John Galt Line! The film's greatest virtue is that, from the first moment, one steps into the world of Atlas Shrugged. The writers whose works live across time share an essential characteristic: their unique and personal stamp, their unique and personal spirit, emanates from every page of their writing, and one knows it could have been created by no other sense of life, no other intellect. The literary universe of Dostoievsky, for instance, its tone, its emotional quality, is instantly recognizable and can never be confused with that of Henry James or Victor Hugo or Oscar Wilde or Thomas Wolfe. And so wtih Ayn Rand: one turns the pages of The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and one has entered a self-consistent new planet, formed in the image of the world view and the values that were hers alone. To a remarkable degree, the movie captures the spirit, the sense of life, that was Ayn Rand's alone. Does it have faults? I suppose so. I could not care less -- and I suspect you won't care either. Barbara