Rich Engle

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During a reconnassaince mission to SOLOP I saw a Chris Cathcart post, I'll just give you the head-end (wouldn't want to use more than an extract, mess up intellectual property, and such).

The whole point of TOC is to be anti-ARI, just as the whole point of the pseudo-Objectivist sites is to nit-pick AR, ARI, and Objectivism, to unearth every possible supposed flaw and endlessly chortle about it.

Ask yourself this simple question, why have these people contributed nothing - I mean *nothing* - of any significance to Objectivism? Can someone mention a single *important* book, or even article, on any *major* issue in Objectivism which any of them has published?

Name one.

I really don't like getting obvious-juice stains on my dinner napkin, but this one is pretty ripe for illustration. Nothing at all personal against Chris Cathcart, I don't know the man, though I've read a number of his posts.

I'm not as fluent as I used to be in O-speak logic breakdowns, but this sort of sentiment is common, and really, forgiveable, and I believe it can be addressed pretty simply.

For one thing, Ayn Rand's works are her works, and there is a philosophy attached to it that she brought public. And, after that came an (organized) movement. The movement continues to exist, through various factions. Leonard Peikoff's heirship aside, the fact remains that these factions exist.

But the core point is simpler than all that.

Movements, like all groups, are dynamic. There is storming, and, hopefully, norming, somewhere over the rainbow.

So, it is not reasonable to assume that published works are the only way to define contribution to a group, because there are always dialogues going on within them, and these communications do in fact change the nature of the group; they can and do change the mindsets of the individuals within the group.

In music, it would be the equivalent of someone telling a person that they are not a significant musician because they don't have an album released; the player in question could have been entertaining for decades, shaped and inspired innumerable others, but...no album- no street credibility. To me, that is logically unacceptable.

I believe I understand part of Chris' frustration, but I do not agree with his broad picture painting of "psuedo" sites (who determines this?), that the sole purpose is to cajole, and so on. People who have put years into a movement or group generally have much deeper motives than cajoling or attacking- they are looking to create change, based on their experience, their convictions... It may not always be pretty, and how it is done might even dissapoint the doers, but still, the purpose is higher.


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The whole point of TOC is to be anti-ARI, just as the whole point of the pseudo-Objectivist sites is to nit-pick AR, ARI, and Objectivism, to unearth every possible supposed flaw and endlessly chortle about it.

Isn't that a wonderful example of psychological projection? Who are the people who are continuously attacking, condemning and smearing in a relentless campaign the Brandens, TOC, OL, Sciabarra (12000 words!), Hudgins, Rowlands, MSK and many, many others whose only fault is that they don't belong to the orthodox faction? I've also read on that site that those evil people on OL are continuously calling names at them. The chutzpah! Apparently they don't read the contributions of their suboptimal Perigo at all (not to mention many of their own posts), who is so proud of his childish name calling. He doesn't seem to realize that he's becoming a caricature of himself, like an old clown who has lost the contact with his public and thinks that his old repertoire still is funny, while the public is yawning. It's rather pathetic to see him now on a forum swarming with randroids who seem to feel quite at home there and who are his new friends! To keep up appearances he's still muttering a bit about the bad behavior of Peter Schwarz, but he's going through the motions, his heart isn't in it. After all you shouldn't antagonize your future allies too much, isn't it? A typical example of an appeaser...

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I'm waiting for the Brandens to be blamed for Iraq, global terrorism, teen pregnancy, any current forms of the common cold, and maybe skin irritations.

Look at how Joe Maurone (whose recent transformation still puzzles me) knee-jerked into it today on SoloP's/Perigo's "A Challenge to Ed Hudgins" thread, when replying to a comment:

"...corrects the mistake that many Oists have of not considering benevolence, civiliy, generosity etc. virtues in *any* sense..."

Maurone: That there's a mistake is debatable, partly due to Branden smears.

"Kyle, you're really reaching here..." (South Park)

It's not worth going into much, because the people who don't get this don't look like they will any time soon. Nathaniel and Barbara Branden are simply not "smearers," mainly because they have lives, and have occupied themselves with many good things. Their dance cards are usually full. "Smearing," from what I can see, means that they wrote books about their experiences with Ayn Rand, under their names. If I had not seen a certain amount of negative impressions of Ayn Rand in their books, it would've raised a red flag. All in all, I am not sure if anyone in their positions would have been able to handle the break any better than they did. Apparently, the only thing acceptable to some in this regard would have involved complete genuflection, followed by self-censure and self-imposed banishment from all things Objective.

Now, none of this amounts to much, because "Branden smears" has become street jargon, readily applied to anything.

The real meat of this is that the comment Joe is responding to comes from a real place. There are plenty who show those behaviors and have not read or maybe even heard of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. The existence of that sort of backlash behavior is recognized and commented upon by a number of people, including non-O'ists. Tolerance is often discussed for that reason. Forgiveness (or even considering forgiveness in situations where there is no reason to forgive, because there was no transgression) often seems totally unapproachable compared to tolerance.

This isn't about a cadre of Branden lovers vs. a cadre of Branden haters (or as some consider themselves, true Objectivists). There are for sure Branden appreciators- I am one because I admire their work; it is engrossing and useful. That's it. What happened with the break is long gone and over, and the Brandens could have handled things very poorly. They did not. It could never have been perfect, because the situation everyone was responding to was pathological. Ayn Rand didn't do a very good job with it either. That's the nature of failed relationships, and this one included a romantic one.

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Whoops! Haven't made that error in awhile. Taken and noted. So, I address it to Fred Weiss. That makes way more sense to me, the way he's been going at it.

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The giveaway that the quoted screed was by Fred Weiss (or someone like him) was the running together of Ayn Rand, the Ayn Rand Institute, and Objectivism, as though they are one big insoluble lump with no discernible distinctions. Mr. Mazza has used the same rhetoric on his blog.

I'll believe that the Peikoff-Binswanger-Schwartz culture at ARI has changed when ARIans start criticizing Weiss in public.

None of them dares to criticize P, B, or S in public. But Weiss holds no leadership position at ARI, so he ought to be a much safer target--yet none of them dares to tell him to take a hike.

Robert Campbell

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