A Response to Robert Mayhew's Recent Complaint

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A Response to Robert Mayhew's Recent Complaint

Robert L. Campbell

April 11, 2010

(Slightly revised May 16, 2010)

Robert Mayhew has been catching some flak for his editing of Ayn Rand Answers.

Not long after his compilation of edited items from Rand’s Q&A sessions was published, George Reisman posted a sharply negative review of it online. In 2009, Jennifer Burns’ biography Goddess of the Market objected to his editing, and she has amplified these criticisms on her website. Over the past few months, I have criticized Mayhew’s editing on a number of grounds. I am actually a late arrival to these disputes, having taken only a mild interest in Ayn Rand Answers until October 2009, when I opened the thread at ObjectivistLiving called The Rewrite Squad.

In an entry on Diana Hsieh’s blog, Mayhew recently complained about the flak—see On Ayn Rand Answers, at


It’s his prerogative to complain.

In the course of complaining, however, he gets quite a few things wrong, and does nothing to enhance his reputation.

Independent Critiques

First off, let’s clear away a significant misapprehension.

Mayhew imagines that Jennifer Burns’ criticisms of David Harriman, Tore Boeckmann, Peter Schwartz, Marlene Podritske, and himself for rewriting Rand’s previously unpublished material are in some way dependent on something I have written.

His timeline is off.

My correspondence with Dr. Burns goes only to July 2009, when her book was already being reviewed, though it would not go on sale for another two months. I didn’t bring up the editing of Rand’s unpublished material until early November 2009—after her book was on sale, she had posted on her website about the issue, and I had started The Rewrite Squad.

Dr. Burns had previously seen my 2006 article on Ayn Rand and altruism, which she cites in her book; so far as I know, she had seen nothing of Roger Bissell’s online posts about Ayn Rand Answers, nor had she seen any of mine. As she has explained in Goddess of the Market and on her website, Dr. Burns drew her conclusions about editing from years of first-hand study in the Ayn Rand Archives, and her foremost concern has always been the handling of Rand’s journals.

Referring to the 13 Ford Hall Forum answers from 1976 through 1978 that Rand edited herself (one of several pertinent details that he didn’t bother to mention in the Introduction to his book), Mayhew declares: “And I can't help but wonder whether these Q&A were the ones Dr. Burns (who spent years at the Ayn Rand Archives) was referring to when she declared that this material was ‘significantly rewritten’.”

Those 13 amount to 3.5% of the 370 answers presented in his book. The 11 for which I have access to the recordings constitute a little over 5% of the 201 transcribed vs. edited comparisons that I’ve posted on The Rewrite Squad. (I should add that Mayhew did unannounced further editing on two of the answers that Rand had edited.) Mayhew therefore had the opportunity to significantly rewrite more than 90% of the items in his book; he didn’t fail to take advantage of it.

So Mayhew is mistaken. Burns’ criticisms and mine originated independently. I was aware of Reisman’s objections, but Reisman never provided one single comparison between a transcribed answer and a Mayhew rewrite. So I’ve gathered my own data and drawn my own conclusions.

Minimal Editing, Not a Raw Transcript

Second, Mayhew fashions a straw man out of my own views:

Campbell ignores any such considerations, and simply assumes that what the Estate should have done (if anything) was publish a complete and unedited transcript of the Q&A. This is clear from the level of editing that he regards as objectionable.

I wasn’t entirely clear, while posting all those pairs of answers, as to what I think should be done. It doesn’t follow, however, that because I’ve posted raw transcriptions for comparison purposes that I think raw transcriptions should be published in book form.

Here’s my position:

A book of transcribed Q&A needn’t be complete, because a few items are completely trivial or duplicative, and few aren’t very successful as answers—but if one must err, let it be on the side of completeness. Mayhew chose not to include many answers that should have been kept.

And there should be editing—just not a whole lot.

Editing ought to consist of cutting out the hesitation pauses, the false starts, and the purely procedural stuff (such as Ayn Rand negotiating with Judge Lurie, or asking Leonard Peikoff how much time she has left).

The editor should fix the rare obvious slip (“public” education where she meant private; “Henry” Wallace when she meant George), dropping footnotes to indicate what’s been fixed.

Otherwise, my editorial policy would be to refrain from intervening in the text, but when it’s useful to provide context for the reader in the form of additional notes.

Personally, I would scarcely fix her grammar; Rand was not a native speaker of English, and if she occasionally picked the wrong preposition or dropped a definite article in running speech, that is neither a sin nor a crime. As for occasional issues of subject-verb agreement, native speakers have been known to have those, too. Any fixes deemed necessary should be marked with square brackets or, when that proves awkward, acknowledged in a footnote.

And if an answer looks as though it needs considerable editorial tightening to pass muster, resist the temptation to step in and “save” it. Instead, consider the possibility that Ayn Rand’s thinking or expression, on that subject and that occasion, was rambling or diffuse. Even consider not including the answer in your collection, because it’s a dud. (I have found a handful of these in Mayhew’s volume.)

Most of all: Keep out of the text any of your notions of what’s consistent with Rand’s explicit philosophy and what’s not. (If you want to comment about apparent incongruity, do it in a footnote, in your own voice.) When she said these things, Rand thought they were all consistent with her explicit philosophy; otherwise, we may reasonably conclude, she wouldn’t have said them. If she had second thoughts about anything, and her second thoughts can be documented (as was the case with 4 of her 13 edited answers)—then let the reader know what those were. At least Rand put significant additions to her edited answers in square brackets—a practice not carried over into the Mayhew book.

Editors of Rand’s unpublished material ought to leave well enough alone. Ayn Rand is under no posthumous obligation to conform to the expectations of Leonard Peikoff or any other latter-day follower. She isn’t required to relieve them of their emotional discomfort when they wish she hadn’t said something.

So, no, I’m not asking for a complete and unedited transcript, down to “ehh” and “uk” and taking a few seconds to drink water and summoning Dr. Peikoff to decrypt a handwritten question.

I am asking for Rand to be allowed to speak for herself, as she was manifestly capable of doing.

And for others not to pretend that they can improve her speeches, as they are manifestly incapable of doing.

For a sample of the editing I recommend, see the Appendix.

For another sample, see the extended passages from the first answer that Rand gave after her “Faith and Force” speech in 1961, as quoted in Greg Salmieri’s chapter, “Discovering Atlantis: Atlas Shrugged’s Demonstration of a New Moral Philosophy.” (Ironically, this is a chapter in Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, edited by Robert Mayhew.) The passage is on pp. 449-450 in the book; on p. 452, note 25, Salmieri explains his preference for a transcript of her remarks over Mayhew’s rendition. (Salmieri’s transcription is accurate, diverging from my own over a couple of small details.)

Robert Mayhew Is Not Ayn Rand

Mayhew has now leaned repeatedly on Rand’s 1969 remark about making her spoken comments publishable. That would be relevant if Rand herself were putting her answers into writing (in fact, she never showed interest in publishing the vast majority of them). It doesn’t apply when anyone else is trying to put her answers into writing. Robert Mayhew is not Ayn Rand.

In his complaint, Mayhew voices his upset at the bad motives he sees me imputing:

[Campbell] assumes that I dishonestly and presumptuously tried to pass off as Rand’s my own thoughts and words, and that I omitted—without explanation, and owing to evasion (“blank out”, he says)—any material that I decided was embarrassing. In his view, I undertook this editing to hide or sanitize what Ayn Rand really said. As I am affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute (Campbell calls me an ARIan, thus comparing me to a Nazi), my sole or primary concern is rewriting history to construct a barrier between the world and the flawed reality that is Ayn Rand. That I'm trying to do so despite the fact that much of this material is available (and all of it exists in the Archives), just shows (I guess) that I’m stupid as well.

If Mayhew thinks he can edit Ayn Rand’s statements the way Ayn Rand would have, he’s being presumptuous.

If he fails to mark any difference between a handful of revisions by Rand and a mass of revisions by Mayhew, he’s being careless, if not actively dishonest.

If he makes unannounced cuts of material from her spoken answers that he or Leonard Peikoff would prefer that readers not see, he’s being actively dishonest.

I don’t know where Robert Mayhew has been holed up for the last decade, but people who share his allegiances have been called ARIans for at least that long. It’s not meant to equate them with Nazis. (If Leonard Peikoff and his co-founders had wished to avoid the designation, they could have picked a name for their organization that supports a different derivational morphology.)

Here are some illustrations of what I find objectionable in Mayhew’s editing.

Improper Exclusions

First, some answers are clear and significant and topically interesting enough to be included in any acceptable collection of Ayn Rand’s Q&As. The warrant for their inclusion is so strong that keeping any of them out has to have a political motivation.

Rand’s 1971 comments on homosexuality have been chewed over on multiple occasions. There was no legitimate reason to keep them out. Leonard Peikoff and some of his supporters, who disagree with Rand and do not regard homosexuality as immoral, are just trying to spare themselves embarrassment.

This, by the way, is the only item whose exclusion I’ve labeled a “blank out.” When a spoken answer is so well known that some readers are puzzled or annoyed when they can’t find it in Ayn Rand Answers, cutting it from the book is a flagrant act.

In case anyone is tempted to cite the 1968 comments on homosexuality and bigamy, which were included, as an excuse for excluding the 1971 comments on homosexuality, we’re talking about the difference between including one answer on homosexuality and including two answers on homosexuality.

By contrast, Mayhew chose to include ten answers condemning libertarians. In my listening to Rand’s recorded Q&As, I have yet to find a single comment ripping libertarianism that Mayhew didn’t use. It’s not as though each of the ten rips libertarians from a unique perspective.

Here are two other answers that I’m confident were kept out because they might prove embarrassing.

One, from 1976, pertains to the morality of using amphetamines, and it initially elicited a great deal of anger from Ms. Rand.


Another, from 1977, inquires into a former associate whom she seemed eager to disavow because he had become an advisor to Ronald Reagan:


Cuts Made for Political Purposes

Second, there are answers that Mayhew included in his book and significantly bowdlerized. To me, including them in mutilated form is worse than leaving them out entirely. There are not a great many of these, but the only acceptable number is zero.

Since Robert Mayhew’s affiliations with Leonard Peikoff and the Ayn Rand Institute reliably predict what he would be minded to conceal, there is no plausible explanation for such edits except intellectual dishonesty. That is why on The Rewrite Squad I’ve called these the “hand-in-the-cookie jar” moments.

For instance, when asked in 1978 about the impact of Objectivism on psychology, Rand says there has been none, with a couple of exceptions that she couldn’t name in print. What could the unprintable exceptions be? Surely the work of Nathaniel Branden (who was expelled from her circle in 1968) and Allan Blumenthal (who broke off with her in 1977). Removing an allusion to these individuals is consistent with the Peikovian and ARIan policy of treating them as unpersons.


In one of her answers concerning the prospect of all-out war with the Soviet Union, Rand expressed the hope that innocent Soviet citizens would be killed in such a war. Although commentators in the ARI orbit now call for wars of annihilation against such countries as Iran, her unedited language must have proved too bloody-minded:


In an answer about Montessori education from 1971, Rand mentioned an article on the subject in her periodical The Objectivist. Although Mayhew retains (and frequently amplifies) references to Rand’s own published work, he cut this one. The article in question was by Beatrice Hessen, cast out of the fold in 1981 when her husband’s book service decided to carry a novel by a person who had been expelled from Rand’s circle.


In 1969, Rand was asked about the propriety of government bans on three substances: marijuana, cyclamates, and tobacco. In Mayhew’s hands, this becomes an answer on banning marijuana and cyclamates. Rand’s remarks about cigarettes (made while she was coughing) have gone down the Memory Hole. Given the lingering sensitivity about Rand’s 1974 operation for lung cancer and her unwillingness to disclose the nature of her illness to her followers, could there be any doubt as to the motives for cutting here?


Although Mayhew emphatically shares Rand’s antipathy to libertarians, he does occasionally delete her most extreme rhetoric. In a 1974 answer, he cuts her exclamation that libertarians might as well join the Communist Party or the Socialist Workers party. Could he have thought it might reduce the plausibility of her position?


In another 1974 answer, about the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, Rand flatly refused to accept reports, which turned out to be true, that the Pinochet regime was killing or torturing political opponents. Mayhew toned her denial down:


From a 1962 answer about Nietzsche and individualism, Mayhew deliberately cut a reference to Nathaniel Branden, whose article on “Counterfeit Individualism” Rand was urging her listeners to read:


As a consequence, the index to Mayhew’s book (p. 236) attributed that article to Ayn Rand. Seeing the original wording of the answer shreds the credibility of Mayhew’s apologists, who pretended that the misattribution was a simple error.

General Stylistic Insensitivity

Third, in the vast bulk of cases, my objections are less weighty, and they support no ascriptions of dishonesty.

It’s simply my view that Mayhew didn’t need to do nearly so much editing, and did a poor job of the editing that he undertook.

Mayhew too often rewrites for rewriting’s sake. What reason could there be to change “at the point of a gun” to “at gunpoint,” except to prove that one can?

And one doesn’t improve a slightly untidy stretch of running speech by mishearing words, failing to register nuances, imposing new sentence structures clunkier than the old, deleting meaningful details (e.g., Rand’s acidulous observations about Channel 13, the PBS station in New York City), and passing the ensemble through Woody Allen’s mother’s flavor-remover.

Nearly every answer that Mayhew edited serves to illustrate my point, and some of my objections are inevitably a matter of taste. I’ll offer a single example of really ham-fisted editing, from a 1968 answer on Erich Fromm’s view that love and capitalism are opposed in spirit:


Lots more can be seen on the Rewrite Squad, if one has the patience to review and compare.

Whether it’s driven by some rigid model of Rand’s explicit philosophy, or is merely insensitive to her wording and the flow of her speech, Mayhew’s editing strips complexity out of her statements. Maybe he is singling out that odd-colored flower for uprooting; maybe he is just rumbling over it on his rider mower. Either way, the reader of his book will never see it, and may come away less sympathetic to Rand.

In a 1972 response about anarchy in Galt’s Gulch, she contrasts that small utopian community, where everyone agrees philosophically, with a wider society, where not everyone should agree philosophically. There’s no should in Mayhew’s rendition:


In a 1976 answer about not counting her own works when assessing literary or philosophical trends in the surrounding culture, Rand concludes that as an observer of The Culture she should not be trying to comment on how her own work might be contributing to it. Mayhew discards her conclusion:


The Elect vs. The Damned

Whether he is compulsively rewriting Rand, or fiercely dismissing anyone who objects to his rewrites, Mayhew consistently regards himself as a member of a select band entitled to immunity from the rules that apply to others. Here is how he excuses his failure to mention the prior publication of a few answers, edited by Rand herself, in a fleeting and obscure publication, The Objectivist Calendar:

But as Ayn Rand Answers is a publication aimed at the general reader, and not a transcript for historians and other scholars (nor for the many pseudo-scholars who inhabit the Objectivish internet underworld), I regard this as a minor error—surely it pales in comparison to what passes for scholarship in the mind of Robert Campbell.

It is impossible for anyone like me to be a real scholar; all anyone might need by way of proof is the venue on which I’ve presented my critiques (websites) and my allegiances (“Objectivish” rather than purely Objectivist).

By way of contrast, I would never encourage anyone to infer that because Robert Mayhew is deferential to Leonard Peikoff and staunchly affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, or because he recently posted an ill-tempered blast at The Rewrite Squad on a site run by an Orthodox Objectivist wowser, he must be a “pseudo-scholar.” I would neither conclude, nor urge others to conclude, that Mayhew’s essay on We the Living or his translation with commentary of Book 10 of Plato’s Laws could be no more scholarly than his cavalier treatment of Ayn Rand’s spoken answers or his tirade against me over at NoodleFood.

But Mayhew is content to conclude that a person with a history of criticizing Leonard Peikoff, and affiliations with The Atlas Society, or the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, or ObjectivistLiving, must be no better than a pseudo-scholar. So, naturally, I could not have written anything worthwhile about Eddie Willers, or Auguste Comte vs. Herbert Spencer on altruism, or Peikoff’s doctrine of the arbitrary assertion. My articles on self-esteem or my translation of Jean Piaget couldn’t be any good either. Lock, stock, and barrel, whatever I might have done is bogus or lamentable.

As is anyone who provides me with a platform:

Dr. Campbell is scheduled to give a lecture at the Atlas Society’s 2010 summer conference. Its title is "Who’s Answering: Ayn Rand or Robert Mayhew?" This speaks volumes about his seriousness as a scholar—and about the stature of the Atlas Society.

Mayhew omits to mention that he could never have thought well of The Atlas Society. For TAS was founded by and is chiefly populated with individuals who do not regard “My Thirty Years with Ayn Rand” or “Fact and Value” or “Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty” either as philosophical classics or as guides to right conduct.

Mayhew’s Subservience to Leonard Peikoff

Both Mayhew’s cavalier attitude toward Ayn Rand’s actual words and his supercilious dismissal of criticism are rooted in his attachment to the authors of those essays, Leonard Peikoff and Peter Schwartz.

When I asked Dr. Peikoff what Ayn Rand's wishes were regarding this and other unpublished material, he answered that she had told him to do whatever he wanted with it—whatever he thought was best. And he thought it best to make this material available to the broadest audience possible: to those who read Rand's novels and non-fiction, and would be interested in the additional information that such a collection contained, namely, her views on a wide variety of issues, many not discussed elsewhere. […] And since the book was aimed at such a reader, Dr. Peikoff also wanted to limit its contents to those Q&A that he knew to be consistent with her explicit philosophy, and in some cases to have them edited accordingly. I made this clear in my preface; I did not hide the fact that such editing was done. And of course, I knew that the transcripts and recordings were available at the Ayn Rand Archives (and that many of the recordings would become available online).

Mayhew didn’t hide the fact that he had done such editing. He announced that “some (but not much) of my editing aimed to clarify wording that, if left unaltered, might be taken to imply a viewpoint that she explicitly rejected in her written works” (Ayn Rand Answers, p. x). And he noted that Leonard Peikoff “did answer a constant stream of queries related to issues both editorial and philosophical” (p. v).

What he failed to do was specify how often he had done such editing, where he had done it, and to what extent it was done at Peikoff’s express direction.

He had little reason, in the years between 2001 and 2005, to suppose that anyone inclined to be critical of his work would be allowed into the Ayn Rand Archives to check either the original recordings or the transcripts. (By the way, I find it interesting that Mayhew never actually says who did the transcribing for his project; in his Introduction he merely proclaims that Leonard Peikoff did not check the transcripts before the book was published.)

Mayhew does not confine himself to acknowledging that, as the owner of these materials, Leonard Peikoff alone had the power to authorize his project:

I regarded the aims of the Estate as laudable, and so I undertook to prepare this material for publication in the way described, under the guidance of Leonard Peikoff (the person alive most qualified to oversee such a project).

Despite Mayhew’s unlimited confidence in him, Leonard Peikoff has not handled Ayn Rand’s previously unpublished material all that well. Peikoff quit doing his own editing after The Early Ayn Rand. He has farmed out to various disciples her letters, her journals, her interviews, her lectures, and her Q&As, with instructions (how detailed, we outsiders have no way of knowing) to rewrite them. And after sitting for 16 years on Rand’s journal of her “therapy” sessions with Nathaniel Branden, he turned it over to a member of his personal entourage for use in a book, The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics, that has proven so embarrassing to Mayhew that he chose not to cite it in his negative review of Goddess of the Market.

ARIans and “Enemies of Objectivism”

As one who professes fealty to Peikoff and Schwartz, Mayhew presumably obeys their injunctions to worship Ayn Rand, demonize TheBrandens, withhold citations from those who fell out of favor with Rand, and separate the sheep who adhere to Peikovian Objectivism from the goats who have given themselves over to “inherently dishonest ideas.” From this standpoint, people who write about Ayn Rand without first obtaining an imprimatur from the Ayn Rand Institute are to be ignored whenever it is possible, and denounced whenever it is not.

Campbell could have done a more thorough check, looked into the possibility that there was some other source, or sent me an e-mail asking what was going on. (I would not respond to such an e-mail now.)

From comparing Rand’s actual words with Mayhew’s renditions of them, how would I known that Mayhew’s unstated policy was to subtract sentences but never to add them? Could I have asked the Ayn Rand Archives? I have asked them about portions of Ford Hall Forum Q&As (e.g., 1970 or 1973) that are commercially unavailable on recordings—and I haven’t heard back.

Could I have asked Mayhew? Yeah, sure. He’d have gotten right back to the Associate Editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

A more authentic expression of Mayhew’s attitude shows up in his description of his only visit to The Rewrite Squad:

I spent an unpleasant couple of hours the other day reading his “work,” and the sycophantic and malevolent comments that followed most of his “revelations.” I won't be returning.

Preconditions of Professional Communication

Why could I not reasonably expect Mayhew to explain to me where the extra sentences came from in a few of the answers?

Because he gives every semblance of adhering to the Gospel according to Leonard and Peter. As an adherent, he cannot be seen to break ranks with any of his ARIan colleagues. Nor can he be seen communicating about matters Randian with an “enemy of Objectivism,” i.e., anyone who has ever criticized anything ever done by anybody presently connected with ARI.

If Mayhew wants normal professional communication with non-ARIans, he’ll have to begin by signaling that he wants it.

For instance, he might openly refuse to support Andrew Bernstein’s public act of penance, for publishing in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in 2002, and Bernstein’s call for a boycott of the journal. It’s been nearly 8 years, and no ARIan has publicly criticized Bernstein’s action.

He might publicly criticize Diana Hsieh for issuing a tawdry, trumped up denunciation of Chris Sciabarra, complete with quotations from Sciabarra’s private emails. (Instead, he has chosen to post his tirade on Ms. Hsieh’s website.)

He might venture to call out Jim Valliant as a disgrace to Objectivism and Valliant’s book as an unscholarly hunk of junk.

Unless he can break ranks with the nuttiest or the least savory among his colleagues, Mayhew will have to get used to feeling the heat.

He can no longer expect to get academic respectability for Rand studies while running over non-ARIan Rand scholars, profiting from his allies’ cultish behavior while he personally keep his distance.

For the division of labor has broken down. Over more than 20 years, ARIans relied on full-time enforcers (such as Peter Schwartz), spot enforcers (such as John Ridpath reviewing a forbidden book on one occasion, or Leonard Peikoff decreeing an excommunication on another), or expendable flunkies (such as Fred Weiss) to denounce their rivals and pour scorn and execration on their countless enemies. Those with academic ambitions preserved their scholarly respectability by pretending to be above it all; yet no matter how crude, vicious, or mendacious the enforcers got, the respectable ARIans would never find fault with their conduct.

Now, with the publication of the Burns and Heller biographies, the disastrous career of the Valliant book, the appearance in print of a rival book of essays on Atlas Shrugged, the detailed critique of Mayhew’s rewrites, and the gradual devolution of the Ayn Rand Society into an ARIan forum, Mayhew and the rest can no longer offload responsibility onto specialized enforcers. They can now expect to be challenged directly. If they want to keep demanding special deference for themselves and special dispensation for their lapses in scholarly behavior, they will all have to issue these demands in their own voices.

So until the ARIans each learn first-hand what their arrogance, condescension, and deference to questionable authorities are costing them, there will be more incidents like Mayhew’s NoodleFood tantrum—and more responses like this one.


Here’s an answer that’s already been discussed, the item on anarchy in Galt’s Gulch from Ford Hall Forum 1972. Mayhew’s rendition appears on pp. 75-76 of his book.

I’ve edited it as I think it should be edited—hardly at all. I’ve put some little corrections to Rand’s grammar in square brackets.

Would you comment please on the difference between government that you advocate in Capitalism and the government that you find, say, in Galt’s Gulch? I’ve heard it said by a friend of mine, why is this government, where judges and lawsuits are privately run, why is it denied to us mortals? That’s how he puts it. Why is the lack of government in Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged denied to a hypothetical rational society?

Because Galt’s Gulch is not a society; it’s [a] private estate. It is owned by one man who selects those who are admitted so carefully, and even then they have a judge as an arbiter if anything ever came up—only nothing came up among them because they were all men sharing the same philosophy. But in a general society, God help you! If you had a society [in] which all shared one philosophy, that would be dreadful.

Galt’s Gulch would probably have consisted of—I never named the number—let’s say, optimistically, a thousand people who represent the top genius[es] of the world. Even then, they would agree on fundamentals, but they would never be totally identical. And the reason why they didn’t need any government is because if they had disagreements, they were capable of resolving them rationally.

But now how do you project a multi-million nation, in which there can be every kind of viewpoint, every kind of brain, and every kind of morality—and you want no government? What do you think I was talking about when I talked about the Middle Age? There is your no-government society, which leaves men at the mercy of the worst bandits possible, because when there is no government, every criminally inclined individual will resort to force, and every intellectually or morally inclined individual will be left helpless. Government is the absolute necessity if men are to have individual rights, for the simple reason that you do not leave force at the arbitrary whim of other individuals.

And your so-called libertarian anarchism is nothing but whim worship if you refuse to see this point, because what you refuse to recognize is the need of objectivity among men, particularly, men of different views—and it is proper and good that mankind at large, or as a large a section as a nation—should have different views. It’s good to have different views, provided you respect each other’s rights. And there is no one to guard rights except a government under strictly objective rules.

How would you like it if McGovern had his own gang of policemen and Nixon his own? And instead of presenting a campaign, they were fighting it out in the streets? What do you think that would do to you? The rest of us would be caught in the crossfire. Would that make any sense? And yet it certainly has happened throughout history.

A rational society, or a group of rational men, is not afraid of the government—in a proper society, as existed even in this country in the beginning, a rational man doesn’t have to know that a government exists, because the laws are clear and he never breaks any. That is the proper way for men to live, and that’s the proper government.

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After I posted this essay, I went over to NoodleFood and posted a comment on Mayhew's piece, complete with a link to this one.

Diana Hsieh has already deleted my comment.


She didn't even take the time to announce that I was being banned.

Robert Campbell

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After I posted this essay, I went over to NoodleFood and posted a comment on Mayhew's piece, complete with a link to this one.

Diana Hsieh has already deleted my comment.


She didn't even take the time to announce that I was being banned.

Robert Campbell

her noodlefood, it seems, is egg[head]less... therefore, too starchy for my tastes...

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I read the entire thing carefully.

If anyone wishes a free lesson in how to go about editing the unpublished work of another person, you gave one of the best I have ever read. Your standards are rational, reasonable, clear, and leave the issue wide open for anyone who wishes to verify.

That's the meaning of rational as I understand it. That's the kind of objectivity that attracted me to Objectivism in the first place.

It's no wonder you are the Associate Editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Let those who think shoddy scholarship and agenda-driven butchering of the work of a great author read this and see what a real editor is like.

I don't care if it sounds sycophantic, you have my deepest admiration.

Congratulations on a job well done.


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After I posted this essay, I went over to NoodleFood and posted a comment on Mayhew's piece, complete with a link to this one.

Diana Hsieh has already deleted my comment.


She didn't even take the time to announce that I was being banned.

Robert Campbell

Well, if I were Diana Hsieh I'd delete your comments too, as well as Brant's et al. Human hygiene is very important to her. I did the following thought experiment:

1) Robert posts a comment on Noodle Food and five seconds later I transmogrify myself into Diana Hsieh, forgetting who I used to be. DELETE!!!

2) Robert sends me an email: "Diana, you used to be Brant."

3) Realizing, at first only vaguely, that this was true, then, with the accelerating reality of it all fully penetrating my brain, I try with increasing ineffectual desperation to transmogrify myself back into the wonderful specimen of humanity I used to be.

4) I kill myself, after posting glowing reviews of The Passion of Ayn Rand and Judgment Day (which also denounce Leonard Peikoff), not because I'm Diana, but because I'm no longer Brant.


no one told me transmogrification was a one way street

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eusa_clap.gif Great piece. It felt like reading Truth and Toleration for the first time.

One tiny point. By “sycophantic and malevolent comments” I think he meant those written by the people who said you were doing a good job. So we’re all damned! flames.gif

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[...] A more authentic expression of Mayhew's attitude shows up in his description of his only visit to The Rewrite Squad:

I spent an unpleasant couple of hours the other day reading his "work," and the sycophantic and malevolent comments that followed most of his "revelations." I won't be returning.

For the record, many of the comparisons on the thread carry no comments from me at all. And sycophants can't be sycophantic all by their lonesome; they have to flatter a particular person. To whom am I sucking up in my comments?

I suspect you've misidentified Mayhew's target here. The supposedly "sycophantic and malevolent comments" he's talking about are not your own comments, about either the comparisons, Rand's speaking, or Mayhew's editing and rewriting. As you suggest, it takes some contortions to become one's own sycophant.

What Mayhew refers to comes from other OL posters (including me) — responding to, complimenting, and thanking you for your detailed comparison work. And decrying Mayhew's own evident intellectual bankruptcy.

I don't know about the others, but I'd say that if applauding a genuine truth-teller is being a "sycophant," I'll happily wear that badge. Even if it comes from a nauseating second-hander suck-up such as Mayhew.

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  • 3 weeks later...

That's because, like Peikoff, she doesn't like to hear the truth. Great job, Robert! I went ahead and deleted my positive review of this book. Shame on Mayhew for what he did and ARI for printing/supporting it.

After I posted this essay, I went over to NoodleFood and posted a comment on Mayhew's piece, complete with a link to this one.

Diana Hsieh has already deleted my comment.


She didn't even take the time to announce that I was being banned.

Robert Campbell

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