Dennis Hardin

Branden’s "Vision of Ayn Rand" as “Official Objectivism”

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After the break the subscription list of The Objectivist shrank. The transition to The Ayn Rand Letter and end of The Objectivist came precisely with the issue that The Objectivist would have had to publish its circulation figures to qualify for its mailing rate. We will never know what the last year shrinkage was. I can't get my hands on the cost of a year's sub. was, but 10 bucks is about right. 20,000 subscribers x 10 = 200,000 gross a year That's like one million today. Now the next pub. was 33 bucks a year. If we assume 10,000 subscribers that's 330,000 bucks/yr or maybe 1.5 mil today. None of these figures is insignificant. BUT, it was seemingly less work for Rand for she only had to edit the occasional Peikoff. At the time I thought the bi-weekly pub was nuts and unnecessary. It proved too much for her.

--Brant

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She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.

I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.

Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?

I think one would have to be hopelessly naive to answer yes to those questions.

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Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?

I think that Milgram's biography isn't planned as a full biography but instead as a history of Rand's creative life up through the publication of Atlas Shrugged. If so, it could stop short of the issues which developed after Atlas was published.

As far as I'm aware (though I haven't kept up on her work), Milgram has thus far primarily "played safe" in topics she's addressed -- i.e., she's stayed with topics, such as the history of Roark, which didn't tread the dangerous waters of Rand-Brandens. I'm intrigued by the announced subject of the OCON course, since it seems to require at least gingerly venturing into perilous depths.

Ellen

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She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.

I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.

Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?

I think one would have to be hopelessly naive to answer yes to those questions.

Expanding your description of "conscientious historian/biographer" to mean the publications of any academic pursuing scholarly studies, there is the case of Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, where Smith, when she discussed the Objectivist concept of "self-esteem," attributed it to Ayn Rand, not even mentioning Nathaniel Branden's articles in The Objectivist and Objectivist Newsletter, where this concept was developed.

While Smith's works would otherwise surely qualify as scholarly, her omission of Branden's discussion stands out. This appears to have been done to court favor with Peikoff and ARI. To get her books sold and discussed in ARI publications and to continue to be invited to make presentations at their conferences, this omission may have been the "expedient" thing to do, but how she squares this with her detailed examination (and approval) of the Objectivist concepts of the virtue of Integrity, and "the moral versus the practical," is beyond me.

Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o:wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

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Expanding your description of "conscientious historian/biographer" to mean the publications of any academic pursuing scholarly studies, there is the case of Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, where Smith, when she discussed the Objectivist concept of "self-esteem," attributed it to Ayn Rand, not even mentioning Nathaniel Branden's articles in The Objectivist and Objectivist Newsletter, where this concept was developed.

I agree that what Tara Smith did in ignoring NB’s contributions on self-esteem brings her scholarly credentials into question. It is no excuse to say that one had to acquiesce to the irrational prejudices of an intellectual tyrant.

While Smith's works would otherwise surely qualify as scholarly, her omission of Branden's discussion stands out. This appears to have been done to court favor with Peikoff and ARI. To get her books sold and discussed in ARI publications and to continue to be invited to make presentations at their conferences, this omission may have been the "expedient" thing to do, but how she squares this with her detailed examination (and approval) of the Objectivist concepts of the virtue of Integrity, and "the moral versus the practical," is beyond me.

I disagree about Smith's scholarship. I found her overall treatment of the argument for egoism severely lacking. Her lack of attention to the key issue of human volition, in particular, struck me as a serious flaw.

Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o:wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

Since Peikoff also claims that he has not read any of the “unauthorized” biographies—and since one purpose of this book is to “correct” their “mistakes”-- he will probably assign the task of auditing Milgram’s book to Schwartz or someone else who has.

I doubt he is seriously ill, although I do think his doctors tell him to limit his work time. Apparently his experience as a radio talk show host significantly jeopardized his health.

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Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read   :o:wacko:   the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

Since Peikoff also claims that he has not read any of the “unauthorized” biographies—and since one purpose of this book is to “correct” their “mistakes”-- he will probably assign the task of auditing Milgram's book to Schwartz or someone else who has.

I doubt he is seriously ill, although I do think his doctors tell him to limit his work time.  Apparently his experience as a radio talk show host significantly jeopardized his health.

Peikoff is seriously afflicted with eye problems and needs extreme magnification to read.

Dennis, do you have any source besides Harry Binswanger as to Milgram's biography having as one purpose to correct the mistakes of the other accounts? Binswanger isn't exactly a confidant of Peikoff's (Binswanger is one of the board members with whom Peikoff said he isn't on speaking terms during the McCaskey incident), and I wouldn't expect Milgram to confide in Binswanger -- if she were confiding in anyone. (Judging from the report of someone I know who's a good friend of Milgram's, she's keeping her own counsel about the book's contents.)

Ellen

PS: Jerry, thanks for the ebay tip (#125).

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Dennis, do you have any source besides Harry Binswanger as to Milgram's biography having as one purpose to correct the mistakes of the other accounts? Binswanger isn't exactly a confidant of Peikoff's (Binswanger is one of the board members with whom Peikoff said he isn't on speaking terms during the McCaskey incident), and I wouldn't expect Milgram to confide in Binswanger -- if she were confiding in anyone. (Judging from the report of someone I know who's a good friend of Milgram's, she's keeping her own counsel about the book's contents.)

Ellen

Ellen--

No, and the only source I did have was just a post on SOLO, so obviously it wasn't necessarily reliable.

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Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o:wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

This is exactly what I meant to refer to. And quoting Binswanger is about as meaningful as quoting an OCON course description. I don’t assume that anyone associated with ARI is as bad as a Mayhew, Valliant, or Binswanger, after all McCaskey was associated with ARI. Plus, with all this talk of Peikoff's health, maybe the book won't come out until after he's joined the choir invisible. There's not even an estimated release date, at least not to my knowledge.

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Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o:wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

This is exactly what I meant to refer to. And quoting Binswanger is about as meaningful as quoting an OCON course description. I don’t assume that anyone associated with ARI is as bad as a Mayhew, Valliant, or Binswanger, after all McCaskey was associated with ARI. Plus, with all this talk of Peikoff's health, maybe the book won't come out until after he's joined the choir invisible. There's not even an estimated release date, at least not to my knowledge.

the choir invisible -ah! "Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns/all music but its own"

-Crown Him with any Crowns, one of my top 10 fave hymns

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Well,....er,... maybe if we all wrote to him and asked him nicely?

Jerry,

Didn't work for me around the time the book came out.

But I am loathe to go into this in detail publicly due to the viciousness of Jim's attackers. (The Media Matters of O-Land in NZ for one, if you get what I mean.) Let's just say that I have a vastly different view of marketing than he does--but I am not yet in a position to "kill the snake and show you the stick I did it with" as they say in Brazil.

I have been studying hard and gaining skills in the many moving parts of Internet marketing before making my professional move. So, until I have a few marketing wins under my belt I can point to as case studies, I don't think my words will carry any weight with him or anyone close to him.

That's perfectly all right, too. In his position, I would probably have the same attitude.

Don't get me wrong, I just think that Jim is missing some opportunities to market a lot more books.

You can say that again.

In spades.

Michael

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What a wealth of material!

And all that was before he quit (took up?) his day job.

Anybody wanting to oust Nathaniel Branden from early Objectivism

has their work cut out. It is good to have this list under one roof.

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