The Rewrite Squad

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Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1974)

Q&A, 0:47 through 3:53

Q: Miss Rand, as you pointed out, the history of philosophy is marked by disagreement, and the conclusions of the philosophers, many of these men, including Kant, use logical processes to arrive at their conclusions. How can be use that using reason, we will arrive at the correct conclusions, or at any conclusions at all?

A: To begin with, even if the whole world agrees about everything or disagrees about everything, that would not mean anything or prove anything about your own views of logic. The mere agreement on [sic] everybody about an idea, or the fact there are ideas on which men cannot agree does not prove that all of those men were either logical or honest. You cannot take that fact on faith about anyone.

What will prove which philosophy you consider true is your own conscientious use of logic, and it's not a guaranteed process, in the sense that you're not infallible. It is up to you to learn how to use logic, how to reason, and then you will know what to accept. If you make a mistake, you will, the very mistake will give you a chance to correct, uhh, your error and to learn more. But outside of your reason and your logic, you do not have any means of knowing anything.

But if you conclude that, well, man can know know nothing, you would have to look around you and be refuted instantly, because you can see how far man has come and he has to have knowledge in ord, in order to get where he is today. In fact, in order even to arrive at your question, you have to have knowledge; therefore, man has can know something. You merely have to conclude what are the means. Without logic, you will not be able to do it.

The sole judge of what is logical is yourself; only you cannot force your judgment on others and, therefore, if you err, the penalty will be yours.

But as to Kant, there can't even be a presumption of innocence about him [laughter]. His system is so consistently wrong [laughter], and so illogical, that mistakes of that type cannot be made accidentally. His is a very calculated system for one purpose only: destroy man's mind. Everything in his system is subordinated to that end, and in that sense he is logical, if you wish, just as a criminal is logical, in his limited undertaking.

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 161-162)

[Mayhew makes several small cuts from this answer—for what purpose, I don't know.]

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Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1974)

Q&A, 3:54 through 9:25

Q: Miss Rand, as I was under the impression that both you and Emerson were champions of individualism, I was somewhat surprised at your comment concerning his "very small mind."

A: I'm glad you asked that question. [Laughter]

Individualism is not a philosophical, nor even a political primary. Individualism is a concept which, in order to be valid, has to depend on a philosophical—epistemological and metaphysical—base which is valid.

Emerson was an archenemy of reason. He was what's called a Transcendentalist, I believe, which is, uhh, variant of European Romantic philosophy—I don't mean Romantic literature now, but something so very different—Romantic philosophy, which worshiped the will as against reason, which I call, simply, emotion-worship. Emerson believed in all kinds of forms of supernatural mysticism, and he was an enemy of reason.

Now I am primarily and first and foremost a defender of reason—not of individualism, not of capitalism. I defend capitalism because I'm a defender of individualism, but I defend individualism only because I am a defender or a champion of reason; that is my epistemological base.

Emerson contradicts me. Now I don't believe that a man has a right to do anything he pleases. I don't believe it, and nature doesn't believe it. If he runs amok in dealing with nature and acts on his whims, nature will destroy him very quickly. Uh, the state doesn't have to interfere; nobody has to forbid him; he can act anything like an Emerson if he wants to, but it is contradictory to reality and to reason. Therefore, I would not want, ever, to be confused with a thinker like Emerson, or another one who is much, much greater mind, but with whom I don't want to be associated, and that is Nietzsche.

Nietzsche also advocated individualism and he wrote some very beautiful things—literarily beautiful—in defense of the individual. But he was a mystic, metaphysically. He regarded Dionysus, the god of unknowable emotion, above Apollo, the god of reason. He believed in what I call a malevolent universe: that reality is really set against man, but the superman will act, somehow, against reality, in effect, even though he has no chance to win, and will trample over everybody else for his selfish end.

What's his selfish end? Blank out. Nietzsche has never told us what is the proper morality of selfishness; in fact, he says he's beyond good and evil.

Well, you see, I don't believe that selfishness consists of sacrificing others to yourself. And I don't believe that it consists of altruism, which is sacrificing yourself to others.

I don't believe that man is a sacrificial animal. I don't believe that sacrifices are practical, one way or another, although the self-sacrificing that this country is going through today is unspeakable. That's your altruist morality in full political flower. But my morality begins with dropping the idea that men are in reason and in nature enemies of each other. The, uh, interests of rational men do not clash, and, therefore, I do not agree with Nietzsche about a superman and an inferior man. I believe every man should be free and is entitled to whichever he can earn, provided he doesn't, uh, uh, uh, get it by means of physical force. And if his values, his ideas are no good, only he will suffer; that's his choice. But no man has the right to rule another man, and no man has demand, the right to demand any man's sacrifice. That's the difference between me and Nietzsche.

So that if you really want to compare me to anyone, there is only one philosopher who is my base, whose influence I admit and proudly, and that is Aristotle. That, uh, there I do not agree with everything, uh, particularly not with his cosmology, but that cosmology is not a proper part of philosophy. I don't agree with, uh, certain Platonic influences, which are shown in some of his work, but I agree with all his essential points. And so if you want to p, pigeonhole me, all right, I'll be proud and it'll be an honor to belong to the same class as Aristotle, but nobody else in philosophy. [Applause]

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 162-163)

More of Mayhew's emphases on individual words where Rand didn't put them:

I am primarily a defender of reason, not of individualism or capitalism. I defend capitalism because I'm a defender of individualism; I defend individualism because I'm a defender of reason. That's my epistemological base, not Emerson's.
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Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1974)

Q&A, 9:27 through 23:01

Q: Well, ma’am, at the risk of stating an unpopular view: When you were speaking of America, I couldn’t help but think of the cultural genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of black men in this country, and the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. How do you account for all of this in your view of America?

[Rand asks what word he used: cultural genesis? The questioner explains that he said “genocide.”]

A: To begin with, there is much more to America than the issue of racism.

I do not believe that the issue of racism, or even the persecution of a particular race, is as important as the persecution of individuals. Because when you deprive individuals of rights, you can deprive any small group: all individuals lose their rights. Therefore, look at this fundamentally. If you’re concerned with minorities, the smallest minority on earth is an individual. If you do not respect individual rights, you will sacrifice or persecute all minorities, and then you get the same treatment given to a majority, which you can observe today in Soviet Russia.

But if you ask me, well now, should America have tolerated slavery? I would say, certainly not. And why did they? Well, at the time of the Constitutional Convention, during the debates about the Constitution, the best theoreticians at the time wanted to abolish slavery right then and there—and they should have. The fact is that they compromised with other members of the debate and their compromises caused this country a dreadful catastrophe which had to happen—and that was the Civil War. You could not have, ek, slavery existing in a country which proclaimed the, the inalienable rights of man. If you believe rights and the institution of slavery, it’s an enormous contradiction. It is to the honor of this country, which the haters of America never mention, that people died, giving their lives in order to abolish slavery. There was that much strong philosophical feeling about it.

Certainly slavery was a contradiction. But before you criticize this country for it, remember that that is a remnant of the policies and philosophies of Europe and of the rest of the world. The black slaves were sold into slavery, in min, in many cases, by other black tribes. Slavery is something which only the United States of America abolished. Historically, there was no such concept as the rights of the individual; the United States is based on that concept. So that so as long as men held to the American political philosophy, they had to come to the point, even of a civil war, but, uh, eliminating the contradiction with which they could not live—namely, euhh, the institution of slavery.

Incidentally, if you study history, following America’s example, slavery or serfdom was abolished in the whole civilized world during the 19th century. What abolished it? Not altruism. Not any kind of collectivism. Capitalism. The world of free, free trade could not coexist with the slave labor. And countries like Russia, which was the most backward and has, had serfs, liberated them without any pressure from anyone, by economic necessity. Nobody could compete with America economically so long as they continued to use to use slave labor. Now that was the liberating influence of America.

That’s in regard to the slavery of black people. But as to the example of the Japanese people, uhh, you mean the, uh, labor camps in California? Well, that was certainly not, ehh, put over by any sort of defender of capitalism or Americanism. That was done by the Left-wing progressive, liberal Democrats of Franklin D. Roosevelt. [Loud applause]

[some conversation between Rand and the moderator. The questioner seems to be reminding her that she didn’t finish her answer; his reminder is partly lost in a tape edit.]

I’m not sure… would you excuse me for a moment? My friend here points out to me that I didn’t pick up another part of your, uh, statement or question, because I, I answered at such length. I was aware of that. Did you mean the word “genocide”? American Indians?…

Moderator: Did you mention American Indians in your question also as one of the groups? [Questioner cannot be heard, but apparently signaled a confirmation.]

OK, do you want to address that also?

A: Yes, because if you study a reliable history and not liberal, racist newspaper, racism didn’t exist in this country until, uh, the liberals brought it up: [some muttering from audience] racism in the sense of self-consciousness and separation about race. Yes, slavery existed as a very evil institution, and there certainly was prejudice against some minorities, including Negroes after they were liberated. But those prejudices were dying out under the pressure of free economics, because racism in the prejudicial sense doesn’t pay. Then if anyone wants to be a racist, he suffers the workings of the system … is against him.

Today, it is to everyone’s advantage to form some kind of ethnic collective. Ehh, ehh, the people who share your viewpoint or from whose philosophy those catchphrases come are the ones who are institutionalizing racism today. What about the quotas in employment? The quotas in education? And I hope to God—so I am not religious, but to, just to express my feeling—that the Supreme Court will rule against those quotas. But if you can understand the vicious contradiction and injustice of a state establishing racism by law—whether it’s favor of a minority or a majority doesn’t matter. It’s more offensive when it’s in the name of a minority because it can only be done in order to disarm and destroy the majority and the whole country. It can only create more racist divisions, and backlashes, and racist feelings.

If you are opposed to racism, you should, well, en, uh, support individualism. You cannot oppose racism on one hand and want collectivism on the other.

But now, as to the Indians, I don’t even care to start. The kind of alleged complaints that they have against this country. I do believe with serious, scientific reasons the worst kind of movie that you have probably seen, worst from the Indians’ viewpoint, as to what they did to the white man.

I do not think that they have any right to, to live in a country merely because they were born here and acted and lived like savages. Americans didn’t conquer, Americans did not conquer that country.

Whoever is making sounds there, I think is hissing, he is right, but please be consistent: you are a racist if you object to that [laughter from audience]. You are that because you believe that anything should be given to [a] man by his biological birth, or biological reasons. If you are born in a magnificent country which you don’t know what to do with, you believe that it is a property right—it is not.

And, since the Indians did not have any property rights—they didn’t have the concept of property—they didn’t even have a settled, uh, society—they were predominantly nomadic tribes—they were a primitive, tribal culture, if you want to call it that—if so, they didn’t have any right to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using.

It would be wrong to attack any country which does respect—or try, for that matter, to respect—individual rights, because if they do, you are an aggressor and you are in, morally wrong to attack them. But if a country does not protect rights; if a given tribe is the slave of its own tribal chief, why should you respect the rights they do not have? Or any country which has a dictatorship. Government—the citizens still have individual rights—but the country does not have any rights. It’s, anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in this country and you, neither you nor a country nor anyone can want, have your cake and eat it, too—in other words, want respect for the rights of Indians, who, incidentally, for most cases of their tribal history, made agreements with the white man, and then when they had used up whichever they got through agreement of giving, selling certain territory, came back and broke the agreement, and attacked white settlers.

I will go further. Let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages, which they certainly were not. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or have a few caves about.

Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians and now the racist Indians do not believe in to this day: respect for individual rights.

I am, incidentally, in favor of Israel against the Arabs, for the very same reason. There you have the same issue in reverse. That yeah, is, Israel is not a good country politically. It’s a mixed economy, leaning strongly to socialism. Why do the Arabs resent it?

Because it is a wedge of civilization—an industrial, uh, wedge—in a part of the country which is still primitive and nomadic. Israel is being attacked for being civilized, for being, specifically, a technological society. It’s for that very reason that they should be supported, that they are morally right because they represent the progress of man’s mind, just as the white settlers of America represented the progress of the mind, not centuries of brute stagnation and superstition. They represented the banner of the mind and they were in the right.

[A fair amount of applause]

Ayn Rand Answers (pp. 102-104)

America is the country of individual rights. Should America have tolerated slavery? Certainly not. Why did they? At the time of the Constitutional Convention and the debates about the Constitution, the best theoreticians wanted to abolish slavery right away, and they should have. But they compromised with other members, and that compromise inevitably led to a catastrophe: the Civil War. If you believe in rights, then the institution of slavery is an enormous contradiction. It is to America’s honor, which the haters of this country never mention, that people died to abolish slavery. There was that strong a feeling about it. Slavery was a contradiction, but before you criticize this country, remember that slavery was a remnant of the policies and philosophies of Europe and the rest of the world. Blacks were in many cases sold into slavery by other black tribes. Historically, there was no such concept of the rights of the individual; the United States is based on that concept, so that so long as men held to the American political philosophy, they eventually had to eliminate slavery, even at the price of civil war. Incidentally, if you study history, following America’s example, slavery or serfdom was abolished in the whole civilized world in the nineteenth century. What abolished it? Capitalism, not altruism or any kind of collectivism. The world of free trade could not coexist with slave labor. Countries like Russia (which was the most backward) liberated the serfs without any pressure from anyone, but because of economic necessity. No one could compete with America economically so long as they attempted to use slave labor. That was the liberating influence of America.

Now, I don’t care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country. And you’re a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights—they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”—they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It’s wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you’re an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a “country” does not protect rights—if a group of tribesmen are slaves of their tribal chief—why should you respect the “rights” that they don’t have or respect? The same is true for a dictatorship. The citizens in it have individual rights, but the country has no rights and so anyone has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in that country and no individual or country can have its cake and eat it too—that is, you can’t claim one should respect the “rights” of Indians, when they have no concept of rights and no respect for rights. But let’s suppose that they were all beautifully innocent savages—which they certainly were not. What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched—to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over the continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today—those who condemn America—do not respect individual rights.

As for Japanese Americans placed in labor camps in California, that wasn’t done by defenders of capitalism and Americanism, but by the progressive liberal Democrats of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This speechlet took up half of the 26-minute question period after Ayn Rand’s West Point speech. It’s a fair inference that Bob Mayhew wasn’t comfortable with parts of it. I’m uncomfortable with parts of it, too, but I thought the point of Ayn Rand Answers was to report so readers could decide.

Mayhew cut out the last two paragraphs, where Rand drew an explicit analogy between Native Americans and Palestinian Arabs.

He cut out the first two paragraphs, which presented her rationale for not considering racism as important an issue as she thought her questioner did.

He cut most of the three paragraphs after she realized she hadn’t addressed the Native American question. Here she seemed to be claiming that post-Civil Rights Act identity politics was much worse than any racial prejudice that pre-dated the Civil Rights era.

And he took her much briefer remarks about the internment of Japanese Americans and moved them to the end.

He did preserve her “war guilt” proclamations largely intact.

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Thanks to the recent decision to make the Q&A to Ayn Rand's West Point speech available on (it wasn't there when I started this thread), I've been able to transcribe Ayn Rand's first answer about American Indians. I believe that this is also the last of her "war guilt' answers from the 1970s to be included on the thread.

It does not put her in the best possible light. Her knowledge of the relevant history—both of Native Americans and their relationships with European settlers, and of the anti-slavery movement and the abolition of slavery—comes across as extremely sketchy.

I think that Anne Heller was correct to note (p. 391 of her book) that this answer cast a mild pall on what was otherwise a highly successful speech and visit to West Point. According to Heller's source (Brigadier General Capps), the cadet who asked this question was of Native American descent. I thought he might be just from hearing his accent.

During most of the history of our species, Homo sapiens lived under conditions that Rand habitually called "primitive" or "savage." Yet during the last 65,000 years, our numbers grew from roughly 2,000 somewhere in Africa to billions today. And the settling of every continent except Antarctica and the emergence of language took place when all of our ancestors were still hunting and gathering and living in bands.

Robert Campbell

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During most of the history of our species, Homo sapiens lived under conditions that Rand habitually called "primitive" or "savage." Yet during the last 65,000 years, our numbers grew from roughly 2,000 somewhere in Africa to billions today. And the settling of every continent except Antarctica and the emergence of language took place when all of our ancestors were still hunting and gathering and living in bands.

Robert Campbell

beg to differ, at least somewhat...

[from my manuscript... source, The Decent of Woman]

In terms of the aquatic ape, this aspect of "showing off" ended up having a number of consequences which the other apes did not have to contend with. For one, a primate, by nature, is, in the juvenile stage especially, a restless and curiosity-oriented creature. But while a primate, as said, is by nature curious, by the time it has attained adulthood, this curiosity has considerably diminished. An aquatic ape, on the other hand, because of the fact of it spending its time in the waters, developing bipedalism and other attributes as consequences, also has another shifting - the lengthening of its juvenile stage of development. This lengthening was made possible by the shifting to bipedalism and the enlargement of the pelvic bones to accommodate the larger newborn head during birth - and the fact that the newborn was, by the scale of development corresponding to other primates, prematurely birthed [a comparative scale would require a gestation period of 21 months], thus necessitating an environment far less hazardous for the continued survival of the newborn than other primates had to have. Far enough less a hazard that the development of the infant/child into a juvenile was not as quickly a premium and could thus take place as a more leisurely pace. The same could be said for the continuation of growth from the juvenile into adult, which allowed for greater development of the brain usage, assuring greater chances of species survival. This extension of juvenile development, for example, made for a major difference in the way "showing off" progressed - for in fostering the growth of the brain, the curiosity was extended, with inclusion of it into adulthood as a consequence.

Along with these developments, yet another came into place as an extended consequence - language. Speech is a special property of being human. All the higher animals, at least, possess a wide assortment of communication skills - smells, gestures, involuntary cries which constitutes automatic responses to various situations such as hunger, danger,and so forth. But, for the aquatic ape, there would have come times, because of the uniqueness of being in the waters, that there would be need of volitionally utilizing sounds to indicate whats and wheres in an environment wherein so much is out of sight and smell of others. But it is one thing to become able to volitionally make sounds [primates, after much and long time efforts, have been able to achieve this in labs], quite another to turn those sounds into abstractions which pertain to specific concepts. Somewhere along the way the first noun had to come into existence.

There have been a number of suggestions as to how this might have happened - but all are predicated on the notion that it was among the adults [and, for the most part, the males] that this momentous event took place. I think this is an error of perception. There is little argument that once the abstractionization started taking place, it was applied to adult usage, such as hunting game that was aquatic, where there would have been need to communicate the kind of game to others unable to see or smell the animal. But the essence of biology is to perpetuate the species - which means the emphasis is on the young, and it is that for which adults are for, to bring into the world more of those young, another generation to continue the specie.

The essence, then, of survivability is the successfulness of the young to gain to adulthood so as to give forth another round of young.

No one knows, of course, just how the first event took place. But it, I think, can be conjectured that it revolved around the survivability of the young - and that it was initiated by the young. It is known that only among the young is there the capacity of acquiring an initial language - if a person does not acquire a language by a certain age, that person never will. How much more so it must have been back at the beginning. Thus it was the young, already imbued with the rudiments, who grew into juvenile adults that carried those rudiments of language, ensuring that the early hominids had a grasp of it at all their living stages. This is not to say that all partook of the development, but that those quickest to understand words would have been the likeliest to survive and thus perpetuate their segment of the species.

The issue of abstraction, however, goes much further than this volitionally utilizing particular sounds to indicate particular actions, events, animals, objects. Whatever sound was used, it was only issued when the object in question was there, attached as such only to a concrete specimen that was present in the vicinity. There remained getting the idea in the mind without the concrete specimen in view. I suspect it was an inevitable consequence of the ability of being able to volitionally utilize sound to indicate particular objects, in conjunction with the rise of self-awareness - for with this rise of self-awareness would come memory. Out of the memory the cognitive state of being arose, to be used henceforth.

The cognitive being is the difference of man and the other animals. But the difference it makes is much more profound than usually ascribed. Cognition allows for the development of the sense of the individual, because it is not a group thing but a personal thing. In this, personalness comes as the attributes which are consequences - personal expressions, matters which pertain to the self and which are worked out in the single solitary confinement of the mind of the person, the individual, even if this was not immediately recognised as such. This would include, as the hominid evolved, eventually matters of contemplation, what would become known as matters of Art.

But there is a context in which this must be understood, that of time. Just because a word was formulated, an abstract concept of a noun symbolized by a specific sound, it didn't mean that one and all went out and started formulating abstractions all over the place. Urgencies made use of when and where - and especially the what - of the occurrences. Differences in the degrees of the intelligences had quite a bit to do with it as well - even among the animals, there is a very measurable difference in the qualitativeness of smartness among the members of any group. Not only that, within this context of time, there is a need to recognise that just as Homo sapiens evolved from forebearers, so did the chimps and gorillas and so forth of today. The groups that Jane Goodall studied are a lot smarter than their ancestors - not, perhaps, quite the difference as with Homo sapiens, but just the same a very noticeable difference. Putting this into context, the urgencies that would impereate the usage of abstractions become a bit more spaced than would have appeared at first glance. Remember, by the time this necessity of cognition arose, our forebearers were by far the most complex and advanced species that ever went into the waters. The social organization was a very highly developed one - indeed, among those species which were aquatic, only the dolphins and killer whales have anything near the hominid social structures. The hominids' system of signaling, for example, were tremendously subtle and very expressive - the mouths were used to command attention, to exercise ruling control, and to direct the course of relationships. It was an overlay of what was used before, the expressions and emotions of the faces and bodies.

It would be only when those signals ceased to work that it correspondingly became imperative to augment them. And those times would not suddenly come into being, but would appear only sporadically thru the course of time, an exiguous circumstance initially, only building in frequency as the fluency of abstraction and the perceived benefits of it became more observable. At the same time, it must be remembered that the intensity of its occurance had to be significant enough to make the survivability of those utilizing it superior to those not.

Another thing to consider is that this cognitive effort was not a sex-linked characteristic, even tho it most likely first developed via the females. Both sexes engaged in it, when and as it was deemed to be needed. There is a continuum involved here - while the process of abstraction involves an open-endness, an effortness to use, this did not mean that the automatic process of perceptualness ceased to operate, let alone right then and there. There was a graduation, a shifting of gears, so to speak, and the rise of thought then began to pertain not just to nouns but to ideas as well, to greater inventiveness, a greatly expansiveness of the "show me"ism of obtaining attention.

It was also one of the end results of tool making.


not quite the hunters doing it, as usually presumed...

Edited by anonrobt
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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 18:30 through 20:15

Q: I’d like to ask Miss Rand, what’s your position on the Equal Rights Amendment?

A: I’m against it. [some applause; another questioner tries to cut in and Judge Lurie intervenes.] Because it is a dangerous, very dangerous redundancy. The Constitution has never made any distinction between men and women; when the Constitution speak about rights, it does mean equal rights for men and women, and then it is up to the states to pass certain laws which recognize physical, physiological differences between men and women—those differences do exist. They’re not intellectual, they’re not moral, they’re not an issue of different rights, but it is an issue of physiological differences. The Equal Rights Amendment wants to repeal a metaphysical fact of reality. It wants women to be drafted into the army—which I hope all those Women Libbers would be—except [applause] except that the country would lose any such war, if they were. [Laughter] It is for the implications of what certain ambitious pressure group leaders want to make of that amendment under the guise of equality—that is the danger, and that is why the Constitution should not be cluttered with nonsense like that.

Rand's edited version, The Objectivist Calendar, #2 (August 1976), p. 2

I am against it, because it is a dangerous, very dangerous redundancy. The Constitution (as apart from its amendments) does not make any distinction between men and women. When the Constitution speaks about rights, it does mean equal rights for men and women. Then it is up to the states to pass certain laws that recognize physical, physiological differences between men and women. These differences do exist. They’re not intellectual, they’re not moral, they’re not an issue of different rights. But they are physiological differences. The Equal Rights Amendment wants to repeal a metaphysical fact of reality. For instance, it wants women to be drafted into the army—which I hope all those women libbers would be, except that the country would lose the war if they were. The political power that certain ambitious pressure-group leaders could draw from such an amendment, under the guise of equality, is very dangerous. That is why the Constitution should not be cluttered with nonsense of that kind.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 106)

Rand made a little correction, because the 19th Amendment did refer to the rights of women.

Mayhew reproduces Rand's edited version, except where she capitalized "Women Libbers."

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 11:46 through 13:19

Q: Miss Rand, how do you explain two facts? One, that Sweden has a per capita income greater than ours, and, secondly, according to US government statistics, the of productivity of a manufacturing worker is higher than you find in the United States today.

A: I explain it by better press agentry. [Applause] Seriously speaking, I do not believe it. You can prove anything with statistics. You would have to have the whole picture before you could truly say, uhh, there, if their productivity truly was greater, you would have heard about it. That, I would sooner believe that they're all walking on their heads—because there's some indication of that—than they're being productive, when all of their best people have left them. A country like that is on its way toward the sewer, which apparently it has already reached.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 99)

Mayhew truncates the question, deleting the reference to per capita income. And did Ayn Rand ever refer to a country using the third person feminine pronoun?

Sweden is on its way into the sewer, if she hasn't already reached it.

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Ford Hall Forum 1976

Q&A, 8:49 through 9:26

Q: Miss Rand, you've said which politicians you're not very enthusiastic for. Can you comment on who you might be more enthusiastic about, if they were running?

A: No, I wish there were. But in today's cultural atmosphere the better type of people—the true intellectuals—would not go into politics. Not yet. The battle has to be won, or at least a foundation laid, outside of politics. The battle is really in the colleges.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 52)

Mayhew consolidated her final two sentences into one; for him, a major act of forebearance.

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Ford Hall Forum 1972

Q&A, 37:31 through 39:45

Q: Miss Rand, the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence are the foundation of the United States, and the United States is falling apart. I wonder if there is any way to rewrite it. Would you add anything? Would you subtract anything?

A: Uh, today some of its more specifically journalistic allusions would not be relevant. But the principles are still relevant.

Now, do you … you certainly cannot mean that somebody issued the greatest political document in the world and we will automatically have a good society, that we are falling apart, therefore the Declaration of Independence failed. No, it hasn’t. Observe what was, uh, the state of this nation—how much it achieved, so long as it did stand by the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence. Then when you see a basic, fundamental departure from it, you can’t blame it on the original document.

But, above all, what I was really referring to one sentence, to the one historically unprecedented sentence in the Declaration of Independence; the rest are the consequences, the derivatives of the basic issue, the concept of individual rights.

Judge Lurie: This gentleman suggests that, in your opinion, there is no fundamental fault to be found with the Declaration of Independence.

A: Not that I know of, and not on that kind of level. Uh, excuse me, unless you regard it as a fault, which it is, but a minor one: that rights are, that men are endowed with rights by their Creator, rather than by nature. That’s a choice of language, actually; philosophically, it does not change the meaning.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 1)

It doesn’t follow that if someone writes the greatest political document ever, thereafter people will automatically have a good society. You say the nation’s falling apart, therefore the Declaration of Independence failed. No, it hasn’t failed. Observe how much this nation achieved so long as it stood by the principles of the Declaration. When you see a fundamental departure from it, don’t blame the original document.

Some of the Declaration’s journalistic allusions are not relevant today, but its principles still are: above all, the concept of individual rights. There is, however, one minor fault on the level of fundamentals: the idea that men are endowed with rights by their Creator rather than by Nature. This is an issue of the choice of language. Philosophically, it doesn’t change the Declaration’s meaning.

Mayhew has reorganized this answer.

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Ford Hall Forum 1972

Q&A, 39:46 through 41:51

Q: Miss Rand, in The Virtue of Selfishness that you advocate, you’ve expressed a need for objective law. Would you say … Within the legal system of many societies, there is a place for common law, which is unlegislated, a stack of precedents, and is based on local judicial decisions and sometimes on custom. Quite frequently, this law contradicts itself. Would you say that your system of objective law within the kind of government you advocate would replace the common law? [Questioner is hard to hear; transcription is approximate.]

A: I don’t, have not yet written the Constitution of my government, and I don’t intend to. If you ask me in principle, is there any necessity for common law—don’t ask me what I would do in my society; there is no such thing—uhh, common law is a very good institution in the same way that witch doctors were at one time a good institution, because some of their discoveries were a primitive form of medicine. And to that extent they achieved something. But once you have a science of m, medicine, you don’t go, euhh, back to witch doctors. In the same way, common law is many instances established by popular tradition or inertia—some proper principles, and, in other cases, some dreadful principles. Once a civ, a civilization has grasped the concept of law, and particularly basic law—a Constitution—common law becomes unnecessary and should certainly not be regarded as law. Ehh, any, in a free society anyone can have any customs they want, but that is not law.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 44)

Mayhew took out all of the detail from the original question, and sheared off Rand’s disclaimer about not being interested in writing a Constitution or having a detailed model for a system of government.

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Mayhew’s review of Burns’ book has been discussed elsewhere, he harshly critiques her while not acknowledging the criticisms of his work that she makes.

He starts with a quote from Oscar Wilde, “Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography”. The same Wilde source, The Critic as Artist, also contains the following: “The only duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”

Elsewhere he wrote: "If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out."

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The Wilde quote is appropriate for someone who might think of Rand as Jesus...

Note that, in the Objective Standard review you linked to, Mayhew approves of Who is Ayn Rand? by Barbara and Nathaniel, and for quite a "Jesus" reason to boot.

Whereas formerly they coauthored a book in which they treat Rand as a hero...

I contend that the Brandens have always treated Ayn Rand as a heroine, especially when they discuss her achievements.

I have heard the term "stylized life" in some Objectivist discussions on how to choose values. From what I have read of Mayhew, he believes in "stylized history" for choosing the quality of information he prints.

In other words, Rand's real heroism is not enough for him. Who needs facts when you can have a fabricated hero?

This whole thread is evidence to his lack of standards in historical scholarship. Mayhew is essentially a fiction writer, not a scholar.


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Those who would pretend Rand was some sort of "perfect person" do her a profound disservice. If they would consent to acknowledge she was human, they would avoid having to build myths around her. And Rand's accomplishments were so impressive that she doesn't need any second-hander to attempt to overstate them, or to minimize her mistakes/faults.

If I may quote NB:

"She has so much to offer us that is truly marvelous. So much wisdom, insight, and inspiration. So much clarification. Let us say 'thank you' for that, acknowledge the errors and mistakes when we see them, and proceed on our own path - realizing that, ultimately, each of us has to make the journey alone."

Well put.

My independent observation: When I find somewhere Rand appears to me to have been wrong, I check very carefully. Her track record is good enough that I give her the respect of wanting to check my own reasoning very carefully before before being confident she was wrong. She gets smarter with every passing year (even after 1982). (Before someone misinterprets this last sentence in a silly way - I caution them to think carefully about what I must mean in that last sentence, given the preceding sentence!)

Bill P

Edited by Bill P
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Mayhew is essentially a fiction writer, not a scholar.

I’d characterize him an ideologue and a hack. Maybe I have a higher regard for fiction writers than you do. :rolleyes:

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Mayhew is essentially a fiction writer, not a scholar.

I'd characterize him an ideologue and a hack. Maybe I have a higher regard for fiction writers than you do. :rolleyes:


You have to stop repressing your opinions. It is not good for your health...B)


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Mayhew is essentially a fiction writer, not a scholar.

I’d characterize him an ideologue and a hack. Maybe I have a higher regard for fiction writers than you do. :rolleyes:

Not only that, it would place him in the same category as Rand herself.

Jeffrey S.

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Ford Hall Forum 1974

Q&A, Track 1, 8:05 through 9:28

Judge Lurie: Do you support busing in Boston to attain equal educational opportunities?

A: I do not support busing anywhere. [Applause] I, I do not believe that the government has the right to play politics with children nor to dispose of the children’s education against the wishes of the parents. It is as bad a, an infringement of rights as any modern action could be.

Now I do not believe in racism, and if you want to see why I don’t, I will refer you to my article on racism in The Virtue of Selfishness. Racism obviously is a primitive, animal form of collectivism, of loyalty to a race, a group, a physiological collective. I’m certainly an enemy of racism, but I do, and I do believe that people should have quality education—but not at government expense, neither the blacks nor the whites. I do not believe that the government should run schools. I believe education should be public [sic], and then children can go wherever their parents want to send them.

Ayn Rand Answers (p. 24)

No. The government has no right playing politics with children, or disposing of a child’s education against his parents’ wishes. It’s a terrible infringement of rights. I am an enemy of racism (see “Racism,” in The Virtue of Selfishness) and believe people should have quality education. But I don’t believe the government should run schools. Education should be private, and children should go wherever their parents decide to send them.

Mayhew corrects Rand’s slip on “public.” Otherwise he changes the question so it no longer refers to local controversies in Boston around the time of the speech, and makes abridgments for reasons known only to himself.

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i've now acquired Ayn Rand's 1974 Ford Hall Forum talk, which is for sale at the Ayn Rand Bookstore. (The talk and question-and-answer session appear to be available on but the streaming audio doesn't play.)

Because the CD with the 1974 Q&A has three tracks on it, I've provided track numbers. The recording appears to include all of her answers, but the original questions are in nearly all cases edited out. (On this recording, a lot of the applause was also edited out.) Because the questions are mostly available only as rendered by Judge Lurie, I've put a JL in front of them to identify the workding as his.

Robert Campbell

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Ford Hall Forum 1974

Q&A, Track 3, 3:39 through 3:49

JL: Will be you willing to shed some light upon the philosophical split between you and Nathaniel Branden?

A: I have shed that light long ago and you may look it up if you wish.

Ayn Rand Answers: not included.

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False dichotomy alert!

Fiction writer versus ideologue/hack is a false dichotomy.

It is entirely possible to write fiction and be an ideologue and a hack.

A technique that embodies both is ValliantQuote.

Apparently this has roots in MayhewQuote.

I wonder if the technique extends back further in ARI-type fictional scholarship...


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The key point in Stephen Cox's review is that Bob Mayhew hardly ever accurately quoted a line of dialogue from Song of Russia.

Robert Campbell

I don't get it. Does Mayhew think that no one will ever see the original? Song of Russia was shown on TCM in the last two years.

Does he also believe that no one will look at Ayn Rand's original statements at Ford Hall Forum.

I don't think Mayhew has a very high opinion of his readers.

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