The Rewrite Squad


Robert Campbell

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Brant,

I'll be posting some more from 1976 tomorrow. There are some longer answers that are still pretty long as reworded by Bob Mayhew, and these take a while to prepare.

Robert Campbell

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 4:58 through 7:00

Q: Miss Rand, you’ve mentioned six candidates for President. By any chance, have you heard of Roger MacBride of the Libertarian Party, and can you tell us what you think of him?

A: My proper answer should be, “I don’t.” [Applause.] But I’d like to elaborate.

To begin with, I mentioned the candidates which were mentioned in the particulars article [sic] … they didn’t hear of MacBride, which is just as well. There is nothing to hear there.

Now, why would I be opposed to it? Because, I have been saying … Look, you know nothing about me except the lecture today, but I have been saying the same thing in everything I have spoken or written, that the trouble in the world today is philosophical, that only the right philosophy can save us.

And here is a party which plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes it with the exact opposite—with religionists, with anarchists, with just about every intellectual misfit and scum that they can find. And they call themselves Libertarian and they run for office. [Applause.]

Just let me add: I dislike Mr. Reagan. I dislike Mr. Carter. And I don’t, I’m not too enthusiastic about the other candidates. I would say the worst of them are giants compared to anybody who would attempt anything so unphilosophical, so low and so pragmatic as this Libertarian Party, because it is the last insult to the idea of ideas and to philosophical consistency.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 73)

Mayhew's contributions are to compress this answer and drain some of the vehemence out of it.

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 37:45 through 40:50

Q: One of the foundations of capitalism—one of the foundations of private property—is the sacredness of contract. Our country has made what I believe to be sacred contracts in the form of treaties with several peoples, and these contracts are supposed to run until the sky is no longer blue and until the grass is no longer green. I wonder if it would be fitting in the Bicentennial to return some of the Indian lands which belong to these people by contract.

A: If you ask me as a principle should one respect the sanctity of contract—yes, among individuals. Not that certain among nations; that depends on the nature of the other nation and on its behavior. But if you want to apply contract law to the Indians, I am the last person in the world you should ask because I feel very strongly against it; I will however try to speak calmly.

The issue is the same one I made reference to to another questioner. Please read my article, "Collectivized 'Rights'," in which I speak in detail about the fact that when a group of people or a nation does not respect individual rights, it cannot claim any rights whatever.

The Indians, who were savages here, with ghastly tribal rules, including torture of a kind that is now famous as Indian torture … Tribes of that kind have no rights. Americans or anyone less than that have the right to come here and take whichever he could take because he's dealing with savages as they deal among themselves, by force.

We owe nothing to the Indians, except the memory of monstrous evils and horrors, ekk, done by them. Now if you're telling me that there is evidence — I will question it very thoroughly, but let's suppose that you may be able to find evidence — of the white people treating the Indians very badly, I would say that's too bad, but in the whole history of this country, it's an exception, and I would, be, regret it, but that would not give the Indians any kind of rights. Because look at their own history, look at their ideas, look at their treatment of their own members. People who do not recognize individual rights cannot expect to have any rights or to have them respected.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 104)

A garden-variety rewrite, except for Mayhew's introduction of one of his pet devices: emphasis on a single word that was not in the original.

We owe nothing to the Indians, except the memory of monstrous evils done by them.
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Indians have been badly treated over the history of this country by Europeans. It continues to this day. She's on stronger ground deriding the Indians--not much stronger--but what is "indian torture"? There were so many tribes it is hard to understand how they could one torture technique. And she never heard of the Inquisition? Would those be white man tortures? Rand had no real understanding of the barbarities inflicted on indians by war, disease, starvation, displacement, massacres and what have you.

--Brant

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 27:58 through 35:29

Q: Miss Rand, would you care to comment on the current balance between Israel and the Arab countries, the Soviet Union, and its implications for Mr. Ford, Mr. Kissinger, and the current treatment of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn?

A: And Kissinger. The questioner mentioned Kissinger. [Exchange with Judge Lurie.]

Well, my real answer should be that if you came next Sunday, and the Sunday were available and I could come from New York, I would have to give you a lecture on that subject. You cannot cover all that in a question period.

Let me give you just a few brief indications which I would like to say.

I am certainly for Israel’s battle against the Arabs. I support them, even though they are an almost socialist state. For the following reason: They are being attacked because they are the vanguard of civilization in that part of Africa [sic] … [applause]. They’re being attacked for being industrialized and civilized, as against the primordial ignorance and savagery of the Arabs, who predominantly are still nomads, which is the lowest stage of civilization. It’s for that reason that I am on the side of Israel. Also, for the fact that Soviet Russia is against it. That’s not always a safe indication and not a proper standard of whom to support, but, in this case, it is significant.

Ayn Rand's edited version. Rand presented a somewhat edited version of this part of the answer in The Objectivist Calendar, no. 3, from September 1976, on p. 2:

You cannot cover all that in a question period. Let me give you just a few brief indications of what I would like to say. I am certainly for Israel in its battle against the Arabs. I support Israel — though it is an almost socialist state — for the following reasons. The Israelis are being attacked because they are the vanguard of civilization in that part of Africa. They are attacked for being industrialized and civilized — as against the primordial ignorance and savagery of the Arabs who, predominantly, are still nomads, which is the lowest stage of civilization. It is for that reason that I am on the side of Israel — and also because Soviet Russia is against them. This last is not always a proper standard of judgment on whom to support. But in this case, it is significant.

Ayn Rand Answers: not included.

Back to the original answer:

I think Mr. Kissinger is the most disgraceful and disastrous Secretary of State [applause] that we’ve ever had [more applause]. Mainly because of his philosophical views, if you know that he is an admirer and a follower of Metternich, which was the worst of the European approach to foreign policy and to power.

Ayn Rand's edited version. Same issue and page of The Objectivist Calendar:

I think Mr. Kissinger is one of the most disgraceful and disastrous secretaries of state that we’ve ever had—mainly because of his philosophical views. He is an admirer and follower of Metternich, who represents the worst of the European approach to foreign policy and to power.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 99): Mayhew reproduces Rand's editing.

Back to the original answer, one more time:

But the question that I most want to answer is … Lower than Kissinger, lower than the rulers of Russia, stands Mr. Solzhenitsyn. He is the worst public caricature of a monster that has emerged in this age, which has an awful lot of public caricatures and of unappetizing characters.

Let me tell you why. If a Communist or a Fascist or any plain power luster tells you that he wants to enslave you, he says so; he doesn’t posture as a liberator. Solzhenitsyn, before you speak of him or ask anything about him, please read the letter which he sent to the Soviet authorities shortly before he was deported. Uh, and they were right to get rid of him. It’s the world’s, uhh, loss to be saddled with that sort of thing. Read that letter; it has been published, it has been translated. I read it in the original Russian.

In it, that man claims, in effect, that he is a Communist. He says so openly, only not in those words. He is against Marxism. He would like Russia to remain a dictatorship, but a dictatorship run by the Russian Orthodox Church, so that Russian religion, the Greek Orthodox religion, would substitute for Marxism. In other words, he wants to take Russia back to the stage before Peter the Great, which is, uh, to the 17th or, earlier, the 16th century. That is how far back he wants to go. He is anti-industrial. He wants to take Russia back to being an agrarian country — and Russia, left on her own, was tilling the soil with bare hands or horses; they didn’t even get to the stage of tractors. They labored 24 hours a day and starved periodically. That’s what Mr. Solzhenitsyn offers as an ideal. And that horrible, pretentious person is held as some kind of hero of liberation!

He doesn’t want to free the world. He is denouncing the West. He is denouncing Western civilization. He says in this letter of his, he wants the Russian government, the Communist Party, to keep all their economic power, the power of production and trade and distribution, over foreign relationships, over the army—and all he wants is for them to allow people to speak and write freely. Now remember, he’s a writer.

And in the conclusion of this unspeakable document, he says the following: “I am … I want nothing for myself. I am sure — in effect, I’m quoting from memory — that you (the rulers) have never seen and cannot imagine a man who is not asking something for himself. Well, here I am. Please look at me.” That is a selfless person. Or that’s as much as any religious mystic-altruist would ever project. That is all that his disinterest means. Give me freedom to write, and all the rest of your activities and professions can be enslaved—I’m quite willing to put up with it.

Look, I am very suspicious of anybody—and that goes for Mr. Bergman, too—Ingmar Bergman—who rises to fame under a dictatorship or semi-dictatorship. Because I know how it’s done. You have to do an enormous lot of compromising, bootlicking, and have a clique of your own within the various cliques before you will be allowed to write. Anyone who became famous in Soviet Russia as a writer deserves enormous suspicion.

But after that, to come out here and posture as a prophet is really adding insult to injury. Sure, what he wrote about the concentration camps is true. Better people have said it before. We should believe them, and not a man who is philosophically the exact opposite of everything the West stands for, or should stand for. He’s a man against individualism and against reason.

That’s my opinion on Mr. Solzhenitsyn.

Ayn Rand's edited version. The Objectivist Calendar number 3 (September 1976), pp. 2-3:

But the question I most want to answer concerns Mr. Solzhenitsyn, whom I regard ideologically as lower than Kissinger, lower than the rulers of Russia.

I regard him ideologically as lower than the rulers of Russia. He is the worst public caricature of a monster that has emerged in this age, which displays a lot of public caricatures and unappetizing characters. Before you speak of Solzhenitsyn or ask anything about him, please read the letter that he sent to the Soviet authorities before he was deported. Read that letter. It has been published; it has been translated. I read it in the original Russian. In it, that man proclaims, in effect, that he is a totalitarian collectivist. He says so openly—only not in those words. He is merely against Marxism. He wants Russia to remain a dictatorship, but a dictatorship run by the Russian Church. He wants Russian religion, the Greek Orthodox Church, to be a substitute for Marxism. […]

And that horrible, pretentious person is being held as some kind of hero of liberation. He doesn’t want to free the world. He is denouncing the West; he is denouncing Western civilization. He is that ancient, chauvinistic aberration: the Slavophile. He says, in that letter of his, that he wants the Russian government—the Communist Party—to keep all its economic and political power; he lists specifically the power over production, trade, and distribution, over foreign relationships, over the army. All he wants is that the government allow people to speak and write freely. Now remember, he’s a writer.

And in the conclusion of this unspeakable document, he says the following (I am quoting from memory): I want nothing for myself, I am sure that you, the rulers, have never seen and cannot imagine a man who is not asking something for himself—well, here I am, please look at me. Is this a “selfless” person? Or is this an example of the worst kind of conventional “selfishness” and vanity? Well, that’s as much of a motive as any religious mystic-altruist would ever project? That’s all his disinterested “selflessness” means: give me freedom to write, and all other human activities and professions can be enslaved, I’m quite willing to put up with it. With ideas of that kind, to come here and posture as a prophet of freedom is really adding insult to injury. Sure, what Solzhenitsyn wrote about the Soviet concentration camps is true. Better people have said it before. We should consider them, not a man who is philosophically the exact opposite of everything the West stands for or should stand for—a man who is a profound enemy of individualism and of reason. That’s my opinion of Mr. Solzhenitsyn.

Finally, I would like to quote a remark with which I agree, but whose authorship, unfortunately, I do not know: “The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.”

Barbara Weiss ended the edited presentation of this answer with a paragraph enclosed in square brackets. It read as follows:

"[Miss Rand wants to add the following: "I should like to quote a remark with which I agree, but whose authorship, unfortunately, I do not know: 'The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.']"

This was followed by another sentence enclosed in brackets, giving the title and publisher for the English language edition of Letter to the Soviet Leaders by Solzhenitsyn.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 64-65):

Mayhew removed the brackets around the final sentence that Rand added, along with "Miss Rand wants to add."

Where Rand cut several sentences, leaving an ellipsis, Mayhew patched in:

In other words, he wants to take Russia back to the stage before Peter the Great, to the seventeenth century or earlier. He is anti-industrial and wants to take Russia back to being an agrarian country.

Mayhew's contribution was to break the edited answer into three parts and then discard the Israeli-Arab portion, patch back in two sentences about Solzhenitsyn where Rand had made a big cut from her edited version, make a couple of minor tweaks to her edited text, and present Rand's addendum as though it came at the end of the original answer when she had clearly signaled that it wasn't.

Rand herself was responsible for cutting the derogation of famous Soviet writers; given that Solzhenitsyn’s work was acceptable to the regime for just a brief while during the Khrushchev thaw, she may have concluded that she was being unfair.

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Indians have been badly treated over the history of this country by Europeans. It continues to this day. She's on stronger ground deriding the Indians--not much stronger--but what is "indian torture"? There were so many tribes it is hard to understand how they could one torture technique. And she never heard of the Inquisition? Would those be white man tortures? Rand had no real understanding of the barbarities inflicted on indians by war, disease, starvation, displacement, massacres and what have you.

--Brant

Brant,

There were a lot of tribes, some far more militaristic than others, so there couldn't have been any uniformity in torture techniques.

She takes such a strong position in this comment, I think it reasonable to ask what, from her standpoint, could constitute ill-treatment of Indians by non-Indians. And why it would be wrong, if American Indians had no rights that anyone else was obliged to respect.

Robert Campbell

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 20:16 through 21:35

Q: Could you please discuss one of the most difficult areas of philosophy, the philosophy of science?

A: The answer is no, not in the time allowed in a question period. I would not undertake to give a single lecture on the subject. A subject like the philosophy of science would require several volumes of writing, which I have not done, although I have certain ideas on the subject. But it’s a special research and special undertaking, which can’t be asked and answered in a question and answer period. But I can give you a little lead if you want: Just read a book of mine, and you will find the leads in it. If you are interested in the subject—no, not about the content—just read a book of mine called Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and you will see the leads in it. Now, if you can’t pursue them, then you’ll have to wait until I or someone will work it out for you, if we do. But the leads are there.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 177)

Mayhew did standard-issue rewriting here.

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Indians have been badly treated over the history of this country by Europeans. It continues to this day. She's on stronger ground deriding the Indians--not much stronger--but what is "indian torture"? There were so many tribes it is hard to understand how they could one torture technique. And she never heard of the Inquisition? Would those be white man tortures? Rand had no real understanding of the barbarities inflicted on indians by war, disease, starvation, displacement, massacres and what have you.

--Brant

Brant,

There were a lot of tribes, some far more militaristic than others, so there couldn't have been any uniformity in torture techniques.

She takes such a strong position in this comment, I think it reasonable to ask what, from her standpoint, could constitute ill-treatment of Indians by non-Indians. And why it would be wrong, if American Indians had no rights that anyone else was obliged to respect.

Robert Campbell

She also ignores the fact that the various Amerindian societies had rather sophisticated social structures that included personal rights--although this varied over a wide degree, all the way down to the apparently totalitarian Inca regime. Possibly she was simply ignorant on the topic--which, given the date, would not be surprising.

Jeffrey S.

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Jeffrey,

Ayn Rand was clearly ignorant of the history and anthropology of Native Americans.

Apparently this was not one of the subjects that Isabel Paterson taught her about, or that she read about on her own.

Her other recorded answer about Native Americans is from the question period after her West Point address. I may get to it later on this thread.

From both answers, I suspect she thought about American Indians, when she did at all, in images from old Hollywood movies.

Robert Campbell

Note added 12/28/09: I've posted Rand's other known answer about American Indians, which does, in fact, appeal to images from old Hollywood movies.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 20:29 through 21:02

Q: Do you believe Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard have the right to secede [from Massachusetts]?

A: Now there I have to say I don’t know, because I don’t know the details of their case and of their constitution. But if they merely want to change their allegiance to a state, I sort of think they’re cute.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 26)

How is this an improvement?

But since they merely want to change their state allegiance, I think they’re sort of cute.
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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 23:09 through 23:45

Q: Can you tell me, please, whatever happened to Martin Anderson, who wrote a rather interesting book 10 years ago called The Federal Bulldozer. I haven’t heard anything about him or from him since then.

A: I know of him. I don’t believe he has written anything since. And the unfortunate thing is that he worked as an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan, which is somewhat of an intellectual dead end. [Laughter]

Ayn Rand Answers: not included

Here Rand was pretending not to know Martin Anderson, when she had been a guest at his wedding (see the Burns book).

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 23:50 through 25:53

Q: If a man infringes the rights of another, why does being incarcerated constitute his getting his just due, as opposed to paying monetary retribution [sic]? Uh, more broadly, what is the proper kind of punishment and how is it morally justified?

A: I don’t know what’s wrong with incarceration. I, I missed your first sentence. Can you, uh, repeat it? What did you say is wrong with incarceration?

Q: I didn’t ask to say anything was wrong with it. I asked what’s the moral justification, as opposed to monetary retribution to the victim.

A: Oh, monetary retribution would be proper if the man has the money. But if he has spent it, and you put him into slavery to earn, uh, whichever he has embezzled, you would have the use of slaves and it would be much worse for society—I don’t care what happens to the criminal—worse for society to maintain, if you tried to make them work it out.

But the proper reason, the moral justification for incarceration is in the statement of your question: If a man has committed a crime, and it’s been proved, something has to be done about it of an unpleasant kind. Something has to be done in the nature of punishment.

It is not society’s duties [sic] to, um, re, what do they call it, rehabilitate. Not only is it not a duty if we knew how, but nobody knows how, and it’s highly doubtful that it can be done. If a man permits himself to be a criminal, we treat him, but in the same manner that he demands. He wants to deal in force; we answer him by force, and we put him in jail to protect the rest of us from the next time he feels like expressing himself.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 45)

Mayhew's rendition starts with the second paragraph of her answer. The first paragraph, pertaining to restitution, has gone down the Memory Hole. Apparently Rand's thoughts on the matter have been judged unfit for public consumption.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 27:20 through 28:25

Q: In view of your statement that no ethnic group has rights, what would you say to the Palestinians, who claim a right to their homeland, considering that this may be the only solution to peace in the Middle East?

A: Whatever right the Palestinians may have had, and I don’t know Middle Eastern history enough to know what was the start of their trouble, they have lost all rights to anything. Not only land, but to human intercourse, by their behavior since, if they lost land.

But instead of that, they resort to terrorism and to the slaughter, literal slaughter of innocent citizens. They deserve whichever any commandos anywhere can try to do to them—and I hope they will do it!

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 97)

Mayhew gets rid of Rand's emphases.

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Ford Hall Forum 1977

Q&A, 30:35 through 32:28

Q: You read from a poem, one of the lines of which was "Lean on no dead kin." You also expressed a preference for personal achievement rather than benefits from ascription. I wonder, given those comments you made during your speech, whether you think it's appropriate that massive power be transferred by inherited wealth?

A: Yes, and the more of it, the better. [Applause] Because the fundamental difference here is the difference between economic power and political power. The word "power" is used too loosely today, in a bad, easy equivocation.

Economic power is not power to deal with men by force. It's the power to create, to achieve. Economic power is not taken from anyone. It's created by the man who becomes rich; that is, if he becomes rich without government help, in a free society—that's economic power.

Political power is only the power to use force. And, economically, political power is merely the power to loot, to seize the wealth created by somebody else, keep a big percentage for yourself, and then distribute the rest.

There is a difference between these two kinds of powers. And the measure of the large fortunes that are produced and transmitted to heirs is the measure of the rest of us of the country's freedom. The more large fortunes and, and worthless heirs, even, let alone the few rare instances of good heirs—only you don't see them today and that's one of our troubles.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 30-31)

Mayhew decided to tidy up the ending:

The number of large fortunes that are produced and transmitted to heirs is the measure of the country's freedom. The more large fortunes and worthless heirs (let alone the rare good heirs), the better.

He also cut Rand's sentence with the word "equivocation." Elsewhere he substitutes technical terms for the plainer words that Rand actually used...

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Mayhew's editing is an abomination, and you're doing a great service to the truth in pointing out details.

We also have him not just bowdlerizing, gutting, and edge-polishing — but omitting blatant instances of the rewriting of reality. Such as:

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 17:00 to 17:20

Q: In the first 20 years after your coming to this country, were there any American writers, particularly in the field of non-fiction, who influenced your ideas?

A: No, not a single one. I wish there were.

Ayn Rand Answers: does not include this item.

As I look toward my bookshelves, at Isabel Paterson's God of the Machine and Rose Wilder Lane's Discovery of Freedom, I think yet again with dismay:

Denial of one's past inconvenient associates is a powerfully addictive drug, indeed.

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Denial of one's past inconvenient associates is a powerfully addictive drug, indeed.

It sure is.

Her 1977 remark about Martin Anderson (where she denied knowing him personally, said nothing about his influence on the Nixon administration, and wrote him off for advising Reagan) wasn't much better.

Robert Campbell

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Mayhew's editing is an abomination, and you're doing a great service to the truth in pointing out details.

We also have him not just bowdlerizing, gutting, and edge-polishing — but omitting blatant instances of the rewriting of reality. Such as:

Ford Hall Forum 1973

Q&A, 17:00 to 17:20

Q: In the first 20 years after your coming to this country, were there any American writers, particularly in the field of non-fiction, who influenced your ideas?

A: No, not a single one. I wish there were.

Ayn Rand Answers: does not include this item.

As I look toward my bookshelves, at Isabel Paterson's God of the Machine and Rose Wilder Lane's Discovery of Freedom, I think yet again with dismay:

Denial of one's past inconvenient associates is a powerfully addictive drug, indeed.

I have also heard she read and liked Mencken.

I have been told that Rand received financial help from Rose Wilder Lane during the last years of writing " The Fountainhead. Is there anyone out who can confirm this story. My original source was Roger Lea McBride.

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Chris G,

The financial help story is worth checking out. I hadn't heard it before.

Besides the two obvious books by Isabel Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane, and a number of pieces by H. L. Mencken, Rand should have mentioned Capitalism: The Creator by Carl Snyder, published in 1940. Both the Burns and the Heller books attribute a good deal of importance to it.

Robert C

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Ford Hall Forum 1978

Q&A, 2:24 through 3:35

Q: Would you comment on the impact that Objectivism has had on psychology, and what the cultural effect of that impact has been?

A: I truly couldn’t say.

From the more obvious phenomena in the cul … in the field of psychology, it’s had no effect whatever. The majority of them do not seem to know that such a thing as the mind exists, or that …[Applause]

And if so, I don’t think they could hear about or know what they’re hearing in regard to Objectivism.

There are exceptions, of course, but none that I could name in print.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 177)

The final sentence has mysteriously vanished from Mayhew's rendition.

Well, maybe not so mysteriously. Nathaniel Branden had been expelled from Rand's circle in 1968; Allan Blumenthal's exit was mentioned in a one-sentence notice in The Objectivist Calendar in October 1977.

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A different kind of problem that I have run into, comparing recordings of Ayn Rand's question periods with Bob Mayhew's edited versions, is that some question and answer periods are unavailable, in part or in toto.

At atlassshrugged.com, the last Ford Hall Forum lecture, from 1981, has no question period attached.

And the question period for the 1977 Ford Hall Forum lecture is incomplete. I'm not going to complain about anything atlasshrugged.com offers free of charge :)

However, a slew of answers attributed to Ford Hall Forum 1977 in the Mayhew book are not on the recording, which is just 35 minutes long and includes no concluding remarks from Ms. Rand or the moderator. There is a notice at the end of the 35 minutes about technical faults in the master tape (these are abundantly audible, including tape stretching, annoying speed variations, and weird reverberation on one question from the audience). But nothing is said about part of the tape being unusable!

Here are the items in the Mayhew book that must have come from the missing portion of the 1977 recording:

Requiring welfare recipients to work (p. 31)

Altering nature (pp. 31-32)

The Austrian school of economics (p. 43)

Dislike of Robert Nozick (p. 75)

America not a white racist society (pp. 104-105)

Follow-up question on women as hero-worshipers (p. 139)

Mark Twain (p. 207)

Advice to those who want to be writers (pp. 220-221)

Maxfield Parrish (p. 225)

I figure 20 to 30 minutes are missing.

Is there another tape that sounds better? Or did Dr. Mayhew work with a recording that he or someone was able to transcribe, but has such distorted sonics that it was deemed unsuitable for sale or distribution?

Robert Campbell

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Ford Hall Forum 1978

Q&A, 0:30 through 2:20

Q: Is it moral for a businessman to sell goods to our government and to foreign governments, when the source of funds is expropriated?

A: Yes, of course it is, to the extent that it is moral for him to exist. He cannot accept moral responsibility for actions or policies over which he has no power or control at all.

Uh, the question of should he deal with foreign governments is, of course, different. There, he would have to judge each individual case according to the nature of the particular foreign government. 'Cause I think that it is totally immoral to deal with Soviet Russia, as it was to deal with Nazi Germany or with any real dictatorship.

Uh, but the same considerations do not apply to your own country, so long as it's not a dictatorship. Uh, government money is expropriated funds. If you regard it that way, you will be correct, because it's tax money. Nevertheless, it is … the moral blame for it falls on the government and on the advocates of taxation, not on the businessman, who has to exist and do his job honestly.

It is not his job qua businessman to worry about the funds of the government. It is his job as businessman in politics to advocate against government power and taxation—which today, unfortunately, he doesn't do.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 99-100):

It's certainly moral for an American businessman to sell goods to our government, to the extent to which it is moral for him to exist. He cannot accept moral responsibility for actions or policies over which he has no control. Government money is expropriated funds. Nonetheless, the moral blame falls on the government and on advocates of taxation, not on the businessman. It is not his job, qua businessman, to worry about the source of government funds. But it is his job, politically, to condemn government power and taxation, which today, unfortunately, businessmen don't do.

Whether he should deal with foreign governments is a different issue. You need to judge each case according to the nature of the particular government. It is totally immoral to deal with Soviet Russia, as it was to deal with Nazi Germany, or any genuine dictatorship.

I've quoted the answer entire because Mayhew reorganized it.

Note that in the 1970s Rand emphasized businessmen's lack of control over government policy in a republic, taking it to exonerate them from responsibility for the government's depredations. Yet she regarded the subjects of a dictatorial regime as morally responsible for its aggressive conduct…

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Ford Hall Forum 1978

Q&A, 5:39 through 6:37

Q: Miss Rand, as a philosopher, what can you recommend as a course of study or as a place of study to students of philosophy—to frustrated students of philosophy who are Objectivists?

A: You mean, what school?

Q: A course of study… what type of courses, or a place.

A: I am not a university teacher, and I would have to work out a whole curriculum, which I have never done. As to recommending any particular, uh, university, where one could get a good grounding in Objectivist philosophy, I can’t tell you today. Let us hope that I may be able to by next year, ‘cause there are certain signs that, if they come true, will be very, very important.

Ayn Rand Answers: not included

What was she alluding to? Could it have been an effort to endow a position for Leonard Peikoff somewhere?

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