|By Murray Rothbard|
Since every cult is grounded on a faith in the infallibility of the guru, it becomes necessary to keep its disciples in ignorance of contradictory infidel writings which may wean cult members away from the fold. The Catholic Church maintained an Index of Prohibited Books; more sweeping was the ancient Muslim cry: "Burn all books, for all truth is in the Koran!" But cults, which attempt to mold every member into a rigidly integrated world view, must go further. Just as Communists are often instructed not to read anti-Communist literature, the Rand cult went further to disseminate what was virtually an Index of Permitted Books. Since most neophyte Randians were both young and relatively ignorant, a careful channeling of their reading insured that they would remain ignorant of non- or anti-Randian ideas or arguments permanently (except as they were taken up briefly, brusquely, and in a highly distorted and hectoring fashion in Randian publications).
The philosophical rationale for keeping Rand cultists in blissful ignorance was the Randian theory of "not giving your sanction to the Enemy." Reading the Enemy (which, with a few carefully selected exceptions, meant all non- or anti-Randians) meant "giving him your moral sanction," which was strictly forbidden as irrational. In a few selected cases, limited exceptions were made for leading cult members who could prove that they had to read certain Enemy works in order to refute them. This book-banning reached its apogee after the titanic Rand-Branden split in late 1968, a split which was the moral equivalent in miniature of, say, a split between Marx and Lenin, or between Jesus and St. Paul. In a development eerily reminiscent of the organized hatred directed against the arch-heretic Emanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s 1984, Rand cultists were required to sign a loyalty oath to Rand; essential to the loyalty oath was a declaration that the signer would henceforth never read any future works of the apostate and arch-heretic Branden. After the split, any Rand cultist seen carrying a book or writing by Branden was promptly excommunicated. Close relatives of Branden were expected to – and did – break with him completely.
Interestingly enough for a movement which proclaimed its devotion to the individual exertion of reason, to curiosity, and to the question "Why?" cultists were required to swear their unquestioning belief that Rand was right and Branden wrong, even though they were not permitted to learn the facts behind the split. In fact, the mere failure to take a stand, the mere attempt to find the facts, or the statement that one could not take a stand on such a grave matter without knowledge of the facts was sufficient for instant expulsion. For such an attitude was conclusive proof of the defective "loyalty" of the disciple to his guru, Ayn Rand.