Michael Stuart Kelly

Air brushed Objectivist publications and materials

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Alfonso:

~ My pointed question is directly relevent to your concern about 'Want "all the occurrences of...?"' --- That word 'all' is what I'm talking about: there's clearly good reason to believe that NOT-'all' is there.

~ Hey, I'm not arguing that it's not useful or handy...like Cliff Notes; my point was about 'accuracy,' especially re the idea of 'all' of a subject covered by 'all' relevent writers on it.

LLAP

J:D

Edited by John Dailey

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Alfonso:

~ My pointed question is directly relevent to your concern about 'Want "all the occurrences of...?"' --- That word 'all' is what I'm talking about: there's clearly good reason to believe that NOT-'all' is there.

~ Hey, I'm not arguing that it's not useful or handy...like Cliff Notes; my point was about 'accuracy,' especially re the idea of 'all' of a subject covered by 'all' relevent writers on it.

LLAP

J:D

I certainly would MUCH PREFER that the CD-ROM be COMPLETE. What is happening with the air-brushing history is scandalous, beneath contempt.

Alfonso

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Has anyone ever seen a written (official) statement which attempted to justify any of the air-brushing? Whether of citations in books, omissions of whole articles from CD-ROM versions of The Objectivist Newsletter and The OBjectivist, of slight (insignificant) rewriting of definitions of concepts to avoid using the "B" word, of censoring our comments or questions by one of the "B's" and overdubbing "At this point a student asked...," etc...?

Alfonso

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Alfonso,

I've never heard of a formal statement from the Leonard Peikoff Institute purporting to justify the air brushing. If they tried to justify it, they'd be publicly admitting that they do it. (Note my remark above, about Binswanger's "obligatory misleading statement" in the preface to The Ayn Rand Lexicon.)

There is an informal excuse for the deletion of voices from tapes that is obviously circulated within ARI, because it's been cited by those with a lot of connections at ARI (e.g., Jim Valliant) as well as by OAC students with many fewer connections. The excuse is unspecified "legal issues." These have to remain unspecified, because it's not as though John Hospers or Barbara Branden or Nathaniel Branden ever threatened to sue if their voices were left on the tapes.

Robert Campbell

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Has anyone ever seen a written (official) statement which attempted to justify any of the air-brushing? Whether of citations in books, omissions of whole articles from CD-ROM versions of The Objectivist Newsletter and The OBjectivist, of slight (insignificant) rewriting of definitions of concepts to avoid using the "B" word, of censoring our comments or questions by one of the "B's" and overdubbing "At this point a student asked...," etc...?

Alfonso

This sounds quite Orwellian. Shame! Shame!

Bal'al Chatzaf

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ARI and its minions is a LIE. From A to Z it lies. Even when a truth falls out of the pot from a little excessive heat and steam it is only seeking sanctuary from lies--from being twisted and molded and blended to serve the lies. This includes the idea of an Ayn Rand human being not. Ayn Rand grotesquerie. Objectivism grotesquerie. Such is the Passion of the Ayn Rand Institute: PARI.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Has anyone ever seen a written (official) statement which attempted to justify any of the air-brushing? Whether of citations in books, omissions of whole articles from CD-ROM versions of The Objectivist Newsletter and The OBjectivist, of slight (insignificant) rewriting of definitions of concepts to avoid using the "B" word, of censoring our comments or questions by one of the "B's" and overdubbing "At this point a student asked...," etc...?

Alfonso

This sounds quite Orwellian. Shame! Shame!

Bal'al Chatzaf

It has been the clear practice of the ARI crowd for some time now. Read the current versions, or check out the documentation which led off this thread.

Alfonso

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There's a phenomenon in Rand-land that is different from air brushing, and from work-arounds of material that has been relegated to the memory hole.

But it's complementary to the first, and has sometimes provided a source for the second.

I'm talking about the replacement article.

Replacement articles are most easily documented in the field of psychology.

Up through the break in 1968, Ayn Rand relied on Nathaniel Branden (and, occasionally, Robert Efron) to provde the content on psychology.

When NB was banished and RE refused to make a faith-based commitment to the banishment, Rand needed a new house psychologist.

In June and July 1969, she published Allan Blumenthal's article on "The Base of Objectivist Psychotherapy" in The Objectivist. One of the functions of this article was to provide a definition of psycho-epistemology untainted by association with the now disgraced NB.

Dr. Blumenthal was not a prolific contributor to Rand's periodicals, however, and in the late 1970s he walked out of her life.

So when Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger started The Objectivist Forum in 1980, they needed house psychologists who could substitute for Nathaniel Branden and Allan Blumenthal.

Edwin A. Locke obliged with "Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis" (February 1980). The article was distinctly backward-looking; by this date, Skinner and Freud were moribund in a few areas of American academic psychology, and completely dead in the rest. But a replacement was needed for NB's old writings on these two schools of thought.

Locke went on to contribute a two-parter on "Ayn Rand and Psychology" (October and December 1982), which laundered the psycho-epistemology concept a second time (Out, out, damned spot!) and sketched a presumptively untainted account of self-esteem. He contributed several other articles, but among these only his reviews of Tracy Kidder's book The Soul of a New Machine (February 1982) and of Yochelson and Samenow's book on the criminal mind (April 1984) were about psychology.

Edith Packer made her first appearance as writer for the Forum in February 1984 with "The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society." She published two-parters on "Understanding the Subconscious" (February and April 1985) and "The Art of Introspection" (December 1985 and February 1986). Her articles contained a fair amount of fresh material drawn from her clinical practice, but they also served to re-launder psycho-epistemology (again!) and rescue "introspective monitoring" from the fell clutches of Allan Blumenthal.

Of course, Edith Packer would become uncitable in her turn, when she and George Reisman were ousted from the Leonard Peikoff Institute in 1994.

Of all of these psychologists, only Edwin Locke remains in good odor with the Orthodoxy today. Now retired, but still active, he recently published in The Objective Standard.

Those psychologists have been a dreadful headache, first to Ayn Rand, then to Leonard Peikoff. I'm proud of them :)

Robert Campbell

PS. Having to write replacement articles is dull. Dr. Locke is a significant contributor to academic psychology; his theory of goal-setting has been extremely influential in the Industrial-Organizational branch of the discipline. You would never know this from his articles in the Forum, however, except for a few hints in his review of Kidder's book. Obviously, his major research program was of scant interest to Drs. Peikoff and Binswanger.

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There's a phenomenon in Rand-land that is different from air brushing, and from work-arounds of material that has been relegated to the memory hole.

But it's complementary to the first, and has sometimes provides a source for the second.

I'm talking about the replacement article.

Replacement articles are most easily documented in the field of psychology.

Up through the break in 1968, Ayn Rand relied on Nathaniel Branden (and, occasionally, Robert Efron) to provde the content on psychology.

When NB was banished and RE refused to make a faith-based commitment to the banishment, Rand needed a new house psychologist.

In June and July 1969, she published Allan Blumenthal's article on "The Base of Objectivist Psychotherapy" in The Objectivist. One of the functions of this article was to provide a definition of psycho-epistemology untainted by association with the now disgraced NB.

Dr. Blumenthal was not a prolific contributor to Rand's periodicals, however, and in the late 1970s he walked out of her life.

So when Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger started The Objectivist Forum in 1980, they needed house psychologists who could substitute for Nathaniel Branden and Allan Blumenthal.

Edwin A. Locke obliged with "Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis" (February 1980). The article was distinctly backward-looking; by this date, Skinner and Freud were moribund in a few areas of American academic psychology, and completely dead in the rest. But a replacement was needed for NB's old writings on these two schools of thought.

Locke went on to contribute a two-parter on "Ayn Rand and Psychology" (October and December 1982), which laundered the psycho-epistemology concept a second time (Out, out, damned spot!) and sketched a presumptively untainted account of self-esteem. He contributed several other articles, but among these only his reviews of Tracy Kidder's book The Soul of a New Machine (February 1982) and of Yochelson and Samenow's book on the criminal mind (April 1984) were about psychology.

Edith Packer made her first appearance as writer for the Forum in February 1984 with "The Psychological Requirements of a Free Society." She published two-parters on "Understanding the Subconscious" (February and April 1985) and "The Art of Introspection" (December 1985 and February 1986). Her articles contained a fair amount of fresh material drawn from her clinical practice, but they also served to re-launder psycho-epistemology (again!) and rescue "introspective monitoring" from the fell clutches of Allan Blumenthal.

Of course, Edith Packer would become uncitable in her turn, when she and George Reisman were ousted from the Leonard Peikoff Institute in 1994.

Of all of these psychologists, only Edwin Locke remains in good odor with the Orthodoxy today. Now retired, but still active, he recently published in The Objective Standard.

Those psychologists have been a dreadful headache, first to Ayn Rand, then to Leonard Peikoff. I'm proud of them :)

Robert Campbell

PS. Having to write replacement articles is dull. Dr. Locke is a significant contributor to academic psychology; his theory of goal-setting has been extremely influential in the Industrial-Organizational branch of the discipline. You would never know this from his articles in the Forum, however, except for a few hints in his review of Kidder's book. Obviously, his major research program was of scant interest to Drs. Peikoff and Binswanger.

You mean it's not glamorous to be the golden boy/girl of orthodox Objectivism? :-) :-)

Jim

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~ I must admit that in trying to follow this...stuff...I feel like Neo would have felt (in THE MATRIX-I), or maybe more apropos, Alice. Following The White Rabbit here seems to chronically result in a constant feeling of 'curiouser and curiouser' whilst simultaneously feeling like 'what a neverending rabbit hole!'

~ I'm waiting for someone to pop up with "Eat me!"

LLAP

J:D

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~ I must admit that in trying to follow this...stuff...I feel like Neo would have felt (in THE MATRIX-I), or maybe more apropos, Alice. Following The White Rabbit here seems to chronically result in a constant feeling of 'curiouser and curiouser' whilst simultaneously feeling like 'what a neverending rabbit hole!'

~ I'm waiting for someone to pop up with "Eat me!"

LLAP

J:D

Reminds me of Winston Smith in 1984 - except that things never reverse themselves in O-land. As far as I know, nobody has been dropped into the Objectivist memory-hole and ever emerged again, rehabilitated.

Alfonso

Edited by Alfonso

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Robert;

Excellent post.

The article Ayn Rand and Psychology was published in the Objectivist Forum after Ayn Rand's. I can remember thinking how much it was an effort not remind anyone of Nathaniel Branden and his work.

I once attended one of Dr. Locke's classes at the University of Maryland where Branden was mentioned. The mention was so off hand that you can bet that none of the students found Branden's books at the University bookstore.

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Anyone wondering about a better approach than the current airbrushing need look no further than the approach of . . . Ayn Rand. I was just browsing through my copy of The Virtue of Selfishness. And I note that in the paperback edition, we find that all of the articles by Nathaniel Branden are preserved - not airbrushed out. And in the introduction, there is a brief statement:

"P.S. Nathaniel Branden is no longer associated with me, with my philosophy or with The Objectivist (formerly The Objectivist Newsletter).

New York, November 1970 A.R."

Now, that may not be a perfect method to deal - but I find it orders of magnitude preferable to the airbrushing of recent years:

Branden deleted from the Objectivism CD-ROM - the articles from The OBjectivist and The OBjectivist Newsletter gone, and articles from The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal gone.

Footnotes and citations in some of the other collections of Rand's papers rewritten to eliminate citations to Branden.

Alfonso

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Psychology of Pleasure

On psychology of pleasure, I found the following reference by Ayn Rand in "Our Cultural Value-Deprivation," The Objectivist, April 1966:

The form in which man experiences the reality of his values is pleasure. In his essay on "The Psychology of Pleasure," Nathaniel Branden writes: "Pleasure, for man, is not a luxury, but a profound psychological need. Pleasure (in the widest sense of the term) is a metaphysical concomitant of life, the reward and consequence of successful action—just as pain is the insignia of failure, destruction, death .... The state of enjoyment gives [man] a direct experience of his own efficacy, of his competence to deal with the facts of reality, to achieve his values, to live .... As pleasure emotionally entails a sense of efficacy, so pain emotionally entails a sense of impotence. In letting man experience, in his own person, the sense that life is a value and that he is a value, pleasure serves as the emotional fuel of man's existence." (THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, February 1964. )

When this article appeared in The Voice of Reason, edited by Leonard Peikoff, Rand's original text was altered to read as follows:

The form in which man experiences the reality of his values is pleasure.

[An essay from The Virtue of Selfishness on "The Psychology of Pleasure," states:] "Pleasure, for man, is not a luxury, but a profound psychological need. Pleasure (in the widest sense of the term) is a metaphysical concomitant of life, the reward and consequence of successful action—just as pain is the insignia of failure, destruction, death .... The state of enjoyment gives [man] a direct experience of his own efficacy, of his competence to deal with the facts of reality, to achieve his values, to live .... As pleasure emotionally entails a sense of efficacy, so pain emotionally entails a sense of impotence. In letting man experience, in his own person, the sense that life is a value and that he is a value, pleasure serves as the emotional fuel of man's existence." (THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, February 1964. )

Stolen Concept

On stolen concept, I found the following reference by Ayn Rand in the "Forward" of "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology," The Objectivist (July 1966):

These are the reasons why I chose to introduce you to Objectivist epistemology by presenting my theory of concepts. I entitle this series an "Introduction," because the theory is presented outside of its full context. For instance, I do not include here a discussion of the validity of man's senses—since the arguments of those who attack the senses are merely variants of the fallacy of the "stolen concept."' (That fallacy consists of "the act of using a concept while ignoring, contradicting or denying the validity of the concepts on which it logically and genetically depends." See "The Stolen Concept" by Nathaniel Branden, THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, January 1963.)

In the Meridian 1990 Expanded Second Edition, edited by Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff, the same paragraph reads as follows:

These are the reasons why I chose to introduce you to Objectivist epistemology by presenting my theory of concepts. I entitle this work an "Introduction," because the theory is presented outside of its full context. For instance, I do not include here a discussion of the validity of man's senses—since the arguments of those who attack the senses are merely variants of the fallacy of the "stolen concept."

Note from Michael: This 1990 version of ITOE is the only one I have at present, but I will go on the presumption that this paragraph was given the same way in the 1979 First Mentor Printing. Also, in the early 70's, before I went to Brazil, I used to own a paperback printing of ITOE that was thin, but wider and taller than a typical paperback, with a cover that had a green stripe running down it. I don't know the date and lost that book in Brazil, but I seem to remember that it did not include the Peikoff essay, "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy." The reason I remember this so vividly is because I remember the excitement of seeing the new essay in the Mentor printing on a vacation trip back to the USA years ago, which is the reason I bought it.

Does anybody else remember this original printing? I would be interested to see if it came out before the break and if the paragraph mentioning Nathaniel Branden was altered there also.

Michael

You are positively correct that the original "First Printing" of ITOE did NOT include Peikoff's "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy". The first printing of ITOE (in book form, 1967) was simply a reprint of the series of articles Rand wrote under the same title for TOM in 1966-7. The monograph includes a single paragraph (a summary of Ch. 8) which did not appear in TOM.(By the way, I have several copies of this monograph, from inexpensive reading copies to a rare beauty signed by Rand, if you're interested.

I have a question for you about the brilliant Barbara Branded, whom I was fortunate enough to meet several times. BB wrote an article entitles "Collectivism in the Classroom," which Leonard Reed, who had published Anthem in his journal The Freeman, refused to publish. If you know anything about this, please let me know.

With appreciation, Michael

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[works missing from the CD-ROM]

- The Objectivism Research CD-ROM, "The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

The Objectivist Newsletter

All works by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden were omitted.

- The Objectivist

All works and entries by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden were omitted.

[....]

- The Objectivist Newsletter

All works and entries by Martin Anderson, Joan Blumenthal, Edith Efron, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen and Joan Meltzer were omitted.

- The Objectivist

All works and entries by John W. Bales (reader), Molly Bartholomew (reader), Allan Blumenthal, Joan Blumenthal, Avis Brick, Roger J. Callahan, Robert Efron, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen, Erika Holzer, Henry Mark Holzer, Phyllis Holzer, Henry Kamm, Susan Ludel, John O. Nelson, George Reisman, Wilfred Schwartz, Kay Nolte Smith, Jeffrey St. John, Mary Ann Sures, George Walsh and Barbara Weiss were omitted.

Today is the first time I've looked at this thread. I'm appalled upon reading that only AR's works from The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist were included on the research CD-ROM. Without the "full context" of the complete publications, a person who wasn't there then would be at a loss to acquire a proper sense of what it was like then, as the ideas and the Objectivist culture were developed in process, month by month, with new articles appearing -- or to acquire a sense of the extent to which especially Nathaniel's articles were crucial to the world view in formation.

Are the original, uncut magazines available in hardcover anywhere, does anyone here know?

Ellen

___

Dear Ellen

There is a hardbound issue of The Objectivist available. The only problem is that the hardbound issue omits all the advertisements on the last page, the opposite side of the back cover, many of which refer to works and quotes cut from the CD-ROM. If you're interested, in these, please contact me: michael@penultimaterarebooks.com Michael

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I was just about to start a thread on this very subject! I had subscribed to The Intellectual Activist when it came out in 1979, but that was several address changes ago, and my copies got lost. So a few months ago, I started buying the PDF form from Estore.aynrand.org, and started printing out the issues for a local Staples store to cerlox bind into a readable periodical form. And.........I started noticing references to an article by George Reisman that were missing. And.....no articles by Reisman, period! Or even a review - by Robert Getman - of the book "In Defence Of The Corporation" by Robert Hessen. I still am going through Volume 4, but the song remains the same, they omitted "Truth And Toleration" by David Kelley, and anything by Reisman or Walsh. It's like someone's quip:"A good Soviet Historian is one who can predict the past"! 

 

And it's also rangles me that the Ayn Rand E-Store is not forthright enough to announce/describe these PDF files as 'truncated', before you buy!

  • Thanks 1

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John,

Glad to see you around. :) 

Yup.

The true believers don't realize they damage Rand's image doing this crap. It's one of the reasons lots of people who would think otherwise or even be friendly to Rand's message call Objectivism a cult.

Michael

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I reckon Peikoff and ARI made themselves a mission impossible, both to propagate Objectivism, put it out there ... and to keep Objectivism under tight control (according to their modified versions, how he/they *thought* Rand-would-have-wanted O'ism to be represented). I see a failure on two counts. It was question of truthfulness and having confidence in Objectivism - for Objectivists and those keen, to make up their own minds after hearing all the facts (and about *all* the thinkers' influences involved). You can't set the method and the ideas free to all minds and keep ideological authority. MSK, I've got to add though, I think that the potential "cult"-believers are always going to see only whatever few negatives they can seize on, and whatever was or was not 'cleaned up' by ARI makes no difference to convincing them. The philosophy is not going to persuade all the people, and it's a mistake to believe it can.

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Anthony wrote: MSK, I've got to add though, I think that the potential "cult"-believers are always going to see only whatever few negatives they can seize on, and whatever was or was not 'cleaned up' by ARI makes no difference to convincing them. The philosophy is not going to persuade all the people, and it's a mistake to believe it can. end quote

I would not mind seeing a documentary about the history of World War “O,” something using documentation without bias to either side or any particular person. But it would need someone who is aware of all the “camps” within Big O and little o Objectivism.

Peter

Review. The Ayn Rand Cult, by Jeff  Walker. Open Court, 1999, xvii + 396 pages. Ayn Rant. R.W. Bradford. If there ever was any doubt that the movement that Nathaniel Branden built around Ayn Rand was a cult, it was removed by the publication of Nathaniel Branden's Judgment Day (1989). In this basically sympathetic portrait of Rand and those around her, one can see ample characteristics of a cult: the beliefs that "Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who ever lived, . . . Atlas Shrugged [Rand's masterwork] is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world, . . . that Ayn Rand, by virtue of her philosophical genius is the supreme arbiter of any issue . . . no one can be a fully consistent individualist who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue . . . since Ayn Rand has designated Nathaniel Branden as her 'intellectual heir,' and has repeatedly proclaimed him to be an ideal exponent of her philosophy, he is to be accorded only marginally less reverence than Ayn Rand herself . . ." (Judgment Day, pp 258-9).

Now there is a book devoted entirely to the phenomenon. In The Ayn Rand Cult, Jeff Walker provides a guided tour, but alas, he is so hostile toward Rand and those who admire her that his own intemperance comes through on nearly every page. Worse, he colors virtually every aspect of Rand's life and the behavior of her followers so as to suggest that it supports his thesis, whether it really does so or not. And, apparently on the theory that anything bad about Rand must strengthen his case, he tosses in all sorts of material that has little or nothing to do with the cultishness of her movement, one way or another. The mere fact that something reflects badly on Rand is enough for Walker; it needn't even be credible. The result is a book so lacking in prudence that it leaves one wondering whether its author is trying to put something over on the reader.

Hyperbole abounds. In the early 1940s, Rand had a close intellectual relationship with novelist and critic Isabel Paterson. That's the nonhyperbolic fact. But Walker describes the relationship this way: At this time, Rand played the part of acolyte within a quasi-guru's inner circle. Monday evenings when the Herald Tribune's Sunday book section went to press and Pat [Paterson] was going over final copy, a handful of fellow conservatives would convene in her office for some highbrow intellectual exchanges into the wee hours.

Was this really a case of a relationship between an "acolyte" and a "quasi-guru" with an "inner circle"? Or merely a group of friends with a common interest getting together for conversation? It's hard to know from the information that Walker provides, though it is difficult to imagine Rand as anyone's "acolyte," or Paterson, a skeptic who shunned every kind of intellectual or political organization, as someone constructing an ashram . . . .  

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: The sinking of the Good Ship Leonard (was A word on Larry) Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 18:53:26 -0500. I noted that Leonard Peikoff helps to "destroy" Objectivism by "defending it badly." And Ben Lipstein replied: "While a relative newcomer to the list, I have been part of and around Objectivism for over 35 years. George Smith's comment on Peikoff's negative sell is on the mark. Peikoff's influence still is effecting Objectivism in a negative way. Yet, I think there is tendency to overkill Peikoff. He just carried over many of the negative traits established by Rand. He is and was a messenger of the Ayn Rand cult, and not the creator."

I agree with Ben that Peikoff's "negative sell" is main problem here. Peikoff is an accomplished philosopher, as well as an excellent speaker and writer, so my curt remark was not intended to denigrate his technical abilities. It is Peikoff's orthodox mind set, along with the corresponding hatred of heretics over infidels (e.g. condemning libertarians more than socialists and fascists) that is the major problem. .

After Rand's death, Peikoff crowned himself both Pope and Prince of orthodox Objectivism, in an effort to exercise absolute control over both its ideological and practical developments. It might be said that this was a continuation of what Ayn Rand did, but I think this is a misleading way to look at it.

Rand, aside from her originality and genius, was a highly charismatic figure. Charismatic leaders, especially when they espouse unusual or unpopular ideas, are often necessary, or at least useful, in the formative stages of an ideological movement like Objectivism. But when these ideas catch on and spread exponentially (as Rand's ideas did), a movement can sometimes leave its pioneers behind, as their charismatic appeal becomes less essential to the movement's survival.

Indeed, the same charisma that was originally beneficial can later prove harmful, even disastrous, as the best followers who were originally drawn to the strong personal characteristics of a leader later find those same characteristics too constraining. As these original followers begin to accomplish things in their own right, as they acquire a sense of independence and "who they are" intellectually, they will no longer be content to play the role of disciples.

Rand's charisma thus had both good and bad results, in my judgment. But the case is different with Peikoff. Although highly intelligent and perhaps even interesting, he is not in Rand's league. (To ward off the inevitable misrepresentations by a certain mendacious quack on this list, I should note that I do not see myself in Rand's league either.)

Peikoff lacks the originality and personality of Ayn Rand, so his efforts to sustain the charismatic wing of the Objectivist movement have become increasingly strained and artificial, and liable to break apart at the seams. Thus, whereas Rand's charisma at least played a useful role (to some degree) in the early stages of the movement, Peikoff's second-hand "charisma" has no good consequences whatsoever, but is merely silly and destructive.

There is much more involved here, granted, but my point boils down to this: If an ideological movement stresses the autonomy of reason, while emphasizing that each person must act as a sovereign judge in matters of knowledge, then there is no way that such a movement can long maintain the orthodox demands of a charismatic movement. To demand this is to demand the impossible, especially if a movement attracts a significant number of first-rate thinkers who refuse to be clones. .

Peikoff is like the captain of a sinking ship who, rather than appealing to the passengers to help plug-up the holes in a cooperative endeavor, throws them overboard instead, hoping thereby to lighten the load and cut down on complaints and criticisms. But the ship, though it may sink more slowly, will nevertheless sink eventually, leaving our brave captain the absolute master of a row boat, barking orders to those faithful hands, however few, who remain.

In conclusion, we could say that Ayn Rand was a classical tragic figure in some respects, inasmuch as the same strengths that made her achievements possible also contributed to some unhappy aspects of her life.

Although I may have some minor disagreements with Ben, I think his post is very insightful. Ghs

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Whoa! A sea change on ATL? And apologies to BB. Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 19:40:16 EDT

Morganis wrote: << Rand certainly didn't see O-ism as being an eclectic collection of beliefs re separate "issues." Being a system, the REAL essence of O-ism is not merely it's conclusions about varied "issues," but what so many have chronically called it's *integration.* This integration is the set of reasons involved in the logical connectivity amongst the otherwise-handled disparate "issues." O-ism, per se, has only 1 "issue": it's a totally and validly connected SET of beliefs (re Metaphysics through Aesthetics)...or...it isn't. >>

But some of the issues Ayn Rand dealt with, apart from specifically philosophical issues, can be considered as not part of Objectivism, although they were part of her convictions. For instance, her belief that no woman should be President of a country -- or many of her strictly psychological tenets, some of which are contained in her theory of sex -- or her view of the necessity of moral judgment. Clearly, if one opposes Objectivism in its essential metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics, one cannot reasonably call oneself an Objectivist; but about other issues, not so clearly linked to these three, one may find room for disagreement without opposing the crucial tenets of Objectivism. Barbara

From: "George H. Smith" Subject: ATL: Re: Ellen Moore and Cultishness (was: I object...from George S.) Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 14:04:09 -0500

Jeff Olson wrote: "Though I often share George's frustration with Ellen Moore the Philosopher, I think it unfair to classify her as a "cultist" – to confuse her, by implication, with individuals such as Peter Schwartz or even Leonard Peikoff.  First, contrary to cultists and dogmatists that I've read or encountered, "EL&M" is willing to engage in philosophical dialogue with those who sharply disagree; second, despite her "prickliness," I find her to be a basically benevolent person; third -- and this, in my opinion, is very significant -- she has a sense of humor."

None of the characteristics mentioned by Jeff has anything to do with adopting a religious attitude in regard to one's beliefs. Indeed, a willingness to engage in arguments about philosophical matters, far from being absent in religious people, is very common, as we see in Protestant evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. As for benevolence and a sense of humor, I have met many, many religious people with these character traits.

Jeff wrote: "My basic criticism of Ellen qua philosopher is that she appears to prefer "making judgments" about things to critical analysis; that is, she underemphasizes the role of dispassionate inquiry in support of her desired conclusions."

Ellen's method of critical analysis resembles what we find in many medieval theologians when they investigated matters like the Trinity. No matter how sophisticated or complex their arguments may appear, you know in advance that they will come down on the side of orthodox doctrine. In thus defending an orthodox creed, they function as theologians, not as philosophers.

Of course these theologians, like Ellen Moore, will tell you that they are simply using reason to defend the truth. But they let the cat out of the bag in (1) their method of defense and (2) their method of dealing with adversaries.

(1) A revealed religion typically begins with a sacred scripture that is deemed infallible, and which therefore serves as a benchmark to judge all other knowledge claims. Of course, no religious Objectivist will explicitly declare that Rand was infallible, but *in practice* this is how her writings are treated.

If Rand, like the rest of us, was a fallible human being, then it highly likely that she committed errors from time to time -- unless she was the first fallible being in the history of the world who managed to avoid this. Yet if you ask a religious Objectivist to point out some errors in Rand, what response are you likely to receive? He will either be unable to locate any at all, or he will concede some minor "personal" errors that don't relate (i.e., are not "essential") to her overall philosophical system. In other words, in everything that really counts, Rand never erred and was to all intents and purposes infallible.

When someone declares that Rand never committed any significant philosophical mistakes, we can interpret this statement in one of two ways.  First, this statement, however unlikely, might be true. Second, the statement is false, but it appears true to the religious Objectivist because he refuses to analyze Rand's philosophy in the same critical spirit that he applies to other writers. In other words, whatever Rand wrote enjoys a privileged status; her writings constitute a "sacred scripture" in practice, if not in theory.

This reflects a basic attitudinal difference between philosophers and theologians. Philosophers go looking for errors in other philosophers, however much they may admire them, because this is the best way to improve on what went before. The first concern of a theologian, in contrast, is to defend holy writ against all comers -- and this brings us to the second category mentioned about, namely, how religious Objectivists deal with adversaries.

(2) Religionists typically inject a strong strain of moralizing in their arguments. In Christian fundamentalism, this sometimes takes the form of claiming that only someone who has been "saved" can possibly understand and appreciate the scriptures. In other cases it is said that unbelievers are blinded by sin, etc., etc. Just plug "rationality," "focusing," or some other Objectivist buzz word into the equation, and there you have the religious Objectivist.

Ellen Moore's posts are saturated with moral admonitions for her adversaries to "focus," to "integrate," etc., etc. Many veterans on Atlantis have grown accustomed to this incessant moralizing, and we have learned to ignore it, so we are apt to lose sight of how it strikes others, such as Mona and Kathleen, who immediately picked up on its religious overtones.

In short, I honestly don't think I have ever encountered any Objectivist who is more imbued with a religious spirit than Ellen Moore. She has truth on her side, as set down in the Gospel of Rand, and the rest is a mechanical problem of imparting this truth to others.

In theory, of course, Ellen will freely concede that Rand was a fallible human being (since this stress on fallibility is itself part of the Objectivist credo), but in practice she is unable or unwilling to point to a single error, or at least a significant one, that Rand ever committed. This tells us little about Rand, but much about Ellen Moore.

(In Ellen's defense, I would *not* say she is an Objectivist Borg -- "That is irrelevant," "Resistance is futile" --such as we find in Peter Swartz and some others affiliated with ARI, but the Borg gives even religion a bad name.)

One last thing: For centuries Christians debated over the essential and non-essential beliefs of Christianity. What exactly do you need to believe in order to qualify as a "Christian"? It was during these ongoing debates that some beliefs came to be regarded as "fundamental" to Christianity, whereas others were dubbed "indifferent," or non-essential. Although you could differ in matters deemed "indifferent," not so in matters deemed "fundamental." Someone who adopted unorthodox views about an essential doctrine was condemned as heretical and excluded from the ranks of Christendom altogether.

There was at least a comprehensible reason why this matter was important to Christians, since only authentic Christians were destined to spend an eternal afterlife in heaven. But Ellen Moore, like every other religious Objectivist I have ever encountered, is similarly obsessed with preaching which doctrines are "essential" to Objectivism – and therefore who does and does not qualify as a *true* Objectivist.

Why would this issue of labels matter to any rational person? Why would any freethinker care whether or not he is admitted into the fold of the faithful? This Chevy Chase business of "I am a true Objectivist, and you're not," aside from its obvious childishness, reeks of religiosity. One also finds this phenomenon throughout the history of Marxism, which has many religious adherents. In this respect Marxism differs not at all from Objectivism. Indeed, a number of atheistic writers who have stressed the supremacy of reason have given rise to cults and religiously-minded followers. (The atheistic positivism of Auguste Comte, which actually spawned churches and rituals, is a good example of this.)

This cultish mentality is most likely to occur in movements that began with a highly charismatic figure, such as Ayn Rand. Anyone one who thinks that secular and reason-oriented movements are exempt from this charismatic religiosity are either or fooling themselves, or they know virtually nothing about the history of such groups. Objectivists, even well-intentioned ones, are not exempt from this tendency.

To someone who claims they are unable to find any mistake, weakness, or flaw in any of Rand's philosophical arguments, I say -- "Keep looking." On the day you find one, but not before, you will have graduated from the ranks of  Objectivist theologians and become a philosopher. Ghs

From: "William Dwyer" To: "'*Atlantis'" Subject: ATL: RE:  Ellen Moore and Cultishness (was: I object...from George S.) Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 15:32:53 -0700

George Smith wrote, "If Rand, like the rest of us, was a fallible human being, then it highly likely that she committed errors from time to time -- unless she was the first fallible being in the history of the world who managed to avoid this. Yet if you ask a religious Objectivist to point out some errors in Rand, what response are you likely to receive? He will either be unable to locate any at all, or he will concede some minor "personal" errors that don't relate (i.e., are not "essential") to her overall philosophical system. In other words, in everything that really counts, Rand never erred and was to all intents and purposes infallible."

Many years ago, I was attending an ARI sponsored conference at which Harry Binswanger was speaking about an "appropriate" biography of Ayn Rand (Of course, Barbara's was dismissed out of hand).  The subject concerned what it was proper to include in such a book.  I raised my hand and asked if it was proper to include any flaws or shortcomings of Rand's, "assuming, of course, that such existed."  (One has to be careful at these conferences to avoid antagonizing the principals, or one's question will not be answered, and one will banned from future attendance, which makes the atmosphere a bit tense, to say the least.)

At any rate, the answer I got from Dr. Binswanger is that, first of all, Ayn Rand didn't have any flaws, "unless," as he put it, "you want to say that she spoke with an accent, but I don't consider that a flaw." Secondly, he said that even if she did have flaws, these are not the proper subject of her biography, because including them would simply give her enemies grist for the mill.  He went on to argue that any flaws Rand might have had should be concealed from the public for a good 100 years or so, until her philosophy could be viewed in its proper perspective.

In other words, Binswanger was stating in a public lecture that the public should be given a misleading impression of Rand's character in her posthumous biography.  We can only assume that any biography of Rand that ARI authorizes will be highly sanitized, and that the real Ayn Rand will not be portrayed within its pages.  To say that one must whitewash the truth in order to defend one's cause is strong evidence of a cult mentality, to say the least.  Needless to say, this intolerance of dissent abounds within ARI.  In fact, one cannot remain a member in good standing there if one is the least bit critical of anything Rand said or did.

This doesn't mean that the ~philosophy~ of Objectivism is a religion. Nor does it mean that anyone who adheres to it in all essential aspects is a cultist, any more than someone who adheres to a certain theory of physics is a cultist.  What makes one a cultist is not ~what~ one believes but ~how~ and ~why~ one believes it.  Unfortunately, far too many Objectivists have adopted the philosophy as if it were a body of dogma impervious to rational criticism.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that in order to be considered "objective" and "rational" one must find something to ~disagree~ with in Objectivism.  In fact, this view commits the same error as the cultists who argue that if you disagree with any aspect of Objectivism, you're not being objective and rational.  Objectivity is not a matter of what you believe but of why you believe it.

Just as it isn't fair to judge someone as non-objective, because he disagrees with some aspect of Objectivism, so it isn't fair to judge him as non-objective, if he ~doesn't~ disagree with some aspect of it.  What demonstrates cultish behavior is how one responds to criticism and how one defends one's beliefs, not ~what~ it is that one believes.  One should feel just as free to defend the entirety of Rand's philosophy on an Objectivist forum (including her view of a female president) as to disagree with some aspect of it.  Toleration of non-dogmatic agreement is just as important as toleration of honest inquiry and criticism. Bill

From: "Jeff Olson" To: "atlantis" Subject: ATL: Ellen Moore and Cultishness (was: I object...from George S.) Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 08:51:14 -0700

I'd like to remove my "sycophant" badge for a moment, and for at least one brief moment speak as though I have an independent mind, rather than as my usual minion-mouthpiece for George.

Though I often share George's frustration with Ellen Moore the Philosopher, I think it unfair to classify her as a "cultist" – to confuse her, by implication, with individuals such as Peter Schwartz or even Leonard Peikoff.  First, contrary to cultists and dogmatists that I've read or encountered, "EL&M" is willing to engage in philosophical dialogue with those who sharply disagree; second, despite her "prickliness," I find her to be a basically benevolent person; third -- and this, in my opinion, is very significant – she has a sense of humor. My basic criticism of Ellen qua philosopher is that she appears to prefer "making judgments" about things to critical analysis; that is, she underemphasizes the role of dispassionate inquiry in support of her desired conclusions. I believe that the correct philosophical method consists principally of such an inquiry, with generous dollops of self-criticism.  This isn't to deny the validity of strong judgment; I merely believe that such judgments should come the "hard way" -- through balanced, thorough, and evenhanded analysis that is as unbiased as possible with respect to a given end.  I think that the primary difference between my and Ellen's approach, then, is one of emphasis: she emphasizes the arrival, whereas I (and George, as well as others here) place considerable emphasis on the journey.

This is the main reason I favor George or Bill Dwyer's approach to philosophy in general over Ellen Moore's (aside from the eternal oath of allegiance I signed during the George Smith Sycophant Ceremony and Beer Bash:-).  Both have strong opinions, certainly, but both recognize the value of self-criticism, and maintain a firm awareness of the possibility of error.

Of course, if I'm right about Ellen, she is hardly unusual in "rushing to a desired judgment."  Most of us indulge in that recreation from time to time.  If nothing else, it gets the heart beating and makes for good aerobic exercise. But again, I don't believe this qualifies Ellen Moore for cultist status.  What cultist would tolerate being harshly criticized from the tip of her toes to the points of her grease-spiked hair (and doesn't her hairstyle alone suggest a certain flexibility of mind?:-)? Jeff

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Ellen Moore and cultishness - Jeff O. Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 14:36:05 -0500

Ellen Moore wrote (to Jeff Olson): "You have to understand my context, Jeff.  I have at least 20-25 years of personal philosophical maturation over yourself and George."

ROTFLOL! Maybe we should find the oldest living Objectivist and then follow him as our messiah, owing to his superior "maturation."

Ellen wrote: "And another big difference, neither of you, so you tell us, are committed to the principles of Objectivism."

Jeff Olson and I are committed to those principles which we believe can be justified. Whether they come from Objectivism (i.e., the mind of Ayn Rand) or not is irrelevant, and should be to any rational person.

Ellen wrote: "I did all the dispassionate inquiry and analysis during the years between birth and the age of 40, during which time I challenged every aspect of Philosophy in general, and of Objectivism in particular."

And again: "Do you actually think that a full lifetime based on continuous self-doubt and self-criticism is the correct way to live? I do not."

Ellen has here summarized the key issue better than I could ever hope to. She completed all her  dispassionate" critical thinking decades ago, at age 40, as if she had graduated from a college with a set curriculum. Yes, Ellen, to be a philosopher does require a *lifetime* of relentless self-criticism in regard to one's beliefs. Too bad you gave up on this so long ago. It may not be the most comfortable way to live, but it is the best antidote for shallow dogmatism. Lastly, I did in fact name *one* religious Objectivist, per your challenge. Her name is Ellen Moore.

In any case, thanks for clarifying the point I was trying to make. Ghs

From: Andre Zantonavitch To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: untoward smugness Date: Fri, 5 Apr 2002 22:55:35 -0800 (PST) SpacePlayer2112@aol.com eloquently wrote in part: "....Just like RAND was half demented when she slapped Nathaniel, cursed him to impotence, and proceeded to lie and accuse him of financial untruths? The same Ayn Rand who couldn't understand how her friends could work around "depravity" (i.e. retarded children). The same self absorbed Rand who couldn't understand why her husband became an alcoholic? The same Ayn Rand who turned Barbara away during a panic attack, while sleeping with Barbara's husband, and had the AUDACITY to say "Do you think only of yourself?"...."

This is painful to read...but important to think about and understand. Ayn Rand was a great novelist, philosopher, and revolutionary. But she was a great cult-of-personality leader too. Zan

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On 6/12/2018 at 6:59 PM, John King 2112 said:

... a few months ago, I started buying the PDF form from Estore.aynrand.org, and started printing out the issues for a local Staples store to cerlox bind into a readable periodical form. And.........I started noticing references to an article by George Reisman that were missing. And.....no articles by Reisman, period! Or even a review - by Robert Getman - of the book "In Defence Of The Corporation" by Robert Hessen. I still am going through Volume 4, but the song remains the same, they omitted "Truth And Toleration" by David Kelley, and anything by Reisman or Walsh. It's like someone's quip:"A good Soviet Historian is one who can predict the past"! 

And it's also rangles me that the Ayn Rand E-Store is not forthright enough to announce/describe these PDF files as 'truncated', before you buy!

Where on Estore.aynrand.org did you find it?  All I see are edited reprints of the articles by Peter Schwartz.

ARIwatch.com

 

 

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2 hours ago, Mark said:

Where on Estore.aynrand.org did you find it?  All I see are edited reprints of the articles by Peter Schwartz.

ARIwatch.com

 

 

Ah, I guess I should have read the fine print: "The author of these articles is Peter Schwartz". DAMN, that was a waste of money for what I thought I was getting!

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