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Post 80

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:42pmSanction this postReply
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Jim writes:

No, I think that you still misunderstand my point. You did have the opportunity to view and at least verify the material -- upon your agreement not to use it. Thus, the viewing and verification were not being denied, just the use of it. This is the distinction that I was making. It is an important one.
Ah, yes.  Yes, indeed.  I would have been allowed to read it, analyze it, give my results to ARI, but never use it personally.  Praise be the virtue of selflessness and the theory-practice dichotomy!  And to hell with the trader principle!  :)

You misunderstand what I'm saying when I suggest "it's 'all' about The Affair."  The Rand-Branden Affair certainly did involve much, much more.  But it all revolved around their personal  relationship, which developed over nearly two decades, entailing a host of complex psychological issues.  And, quite frankly, Jim, you say that Rand thought the Affair was over; my reading of those notes shows me a woman who was deeply hurt, very angry, and, yet, still wanting to bring Branden back.  Do we really have to revisit this here?  I just don't see the point.

Same goes for our differences on the effect of the Brandens' works on Rand criticism:  I still maintain that the people who despise Ayn Rand despise her because of her ideas; this attention to her Affair with Nathaniel is just icing on the cake for some; but it is a cake baked by those who have been ideologically opposed to everything she stands for. 

That is where the battle must be fought:  Over ideas.  Not over the people Rand slept with, why, and for how long.




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Post 81

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:54pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

Thank you for making a point I was going to make - i.e., the value judgment of what is more important to the estate of Ayn Rand, historical accuracy or not promoting the work of people they don't approve of.

The way history unfolded, they can't have both.

What I find perplexing in this is that if they did not want to promote the work of the Brandens, why such loud negative comments? That is very effective promotion.

This is the type of double standard that I constantly question.

Loud publicity for talking bad about the Brandens because the bastards deserve it.

No good comments about the Brandens, even when history has published evidence of it (see my post 69 on Rand's "To Whom it May Concern" article) because they do not want to give publicity to the Brandens.

That's OK if your value is not promoting the Brandens. That is a horrible double standard is your value is historical accuracy.

In today's jargon, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Either the value is not promoting the Brandens or historical accuracy. Despite allegations of the second (historical accuracy), I cannot take it that seriously because I constantly observe the first being used in historical accuracy issues. The option is to wait until the full material is released and to look at other sources - and that's not just me either. That includes scholars and the public in general.

Could it just be that both of the Brandens are quite capable of promoting themselves and do not need the estate of Ayn Rand to do that? Maybe this is what is at root?

Like I keep saying, published facts (especially those of half a century ago) are not going to go away.

Thank goodness we do not live in a society where removing these things is sanctioned and performed by the government. (I'm not implying that Peikoff would make use of that, but another more zealous and ambitious person of the "do not promote the Brandens" persuasion might do so.)

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/29, 2:57pm)




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Post 82

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 2:57pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

Of course I understand your rejection of their terms. As I said, it's understandable and your right. The distinction I made was still valid, if not yet acknowledged.

And, this IS crazy: you concede it's about "much more" right before saying it was about much less. It was FAR more than personal. It was intellectual and ideological, at root. Branden misunderstood Objectivism and was misapplying it, according to Rand. He was a rationalist, according to Rand. He was using psychology to deceive her, as she came to realize. This is just for openers.

I suppose such matters may be defined as being merely "personal," but then so would the whole issue of Rand's "intellectual development" be then.



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Post 83

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 3:02pmSanction this postReply
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James,

I want to ask, "any thoughts on spiritual rape?", but I am afraid that it would come off as unduly hostile and sarcastic.

Still the thought crossed my mind. It is in your book, after all.

Michael




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Post 84

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 3:13pmSanction this postReply
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Jim, thanks for  your reply. 

When I say something is "personal," I am not saying that it entails no intellectual or ideological components; as my review of your book acknowledges fully:  Nathaniel Branden did much to bolster a rationalist misapplication of Objectivist principles and to engender a sycophantic subculture around Rand.  His psychological manipulation of Rand was immoral.

But Branden was not the only one engaging in the intellectual error of rationalism.  Peikoff himself has admitted to this tendency, as have many other Objectivists.  And Rand herself was prone to intellectualizing real human beings and to engaging in a certain degree of moralizing. 

None of this implies a moral equivalence between the wrongs of Nathaniel Branden and Rand's errors.  But it is also a mistake to suggest that by abstracting "the Brandens" from the history of Objectivism, we also bracket out any problems in "Objectivism." That's just ahistorical, in my view. 




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Post 85

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 3:44pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

I would only take issue with the implication that I ever make the ahistorical error it surely would be to say that a refutation of the Brandens answers all questions about Objectivism. That's sheer nonsense, of course, and an error explicitly avoided in my book. And, distrusting the Brandens, I would still reserve judgment on the "moralism" of Rand herself.

MSK,

Not at all. My thoughts on that subject are contained in the book. Branden wrote that dishonesty is, psychologically, a form of coercion -- just as legal fraud is related to physical force -- and it's motive is a form of power-lust. His systematic deception of Rand was, as Chris has just observed, in part, sexual. Thus, what he did was a form of sexual coercion that Branden caused and lived with for some years. As I point out strenuously in the book, no rape of Rand ever happened, but, by Branden's own understanding of psychology at the time, his motive in continuing this sexual deception of Rand was not lust, but power-lust -- i.e., overcoming the free will of his partner.



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Post 86

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 4:01pmSanction this postReply
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James,

That is interesting.

Are you claiming that the "spiritual rape" conclusion you arrived at was not due to normally accepted motives for dishonesty (which go far beyond "power-lust" and include greed, fear and so forth), but was based entirely on Nathaniel Branden's own definition of the motive for dishonesty during that time of history?

(I will have to look up what his present thoughts are on this, as I am not in contact with him and I only have 3 of his books so far in reconstructing my Objectivist and Self-Esteem library.)

I seem to remember you including your own professional experience as a trial attorney in dealing with actual rapists, which provided you with familiarity of their motives, as a source of your conclusion.

Michael




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Post 87

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 4:07pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Few cheaters are so explicitly aware of the coercive nature of what they are doing as Branden seems to have been. Few are so intellectual -- and psychological -- in the nature and comprehensiveness of their deceptions.

And, one does not need to be a professional prosecutor to know that sexual coercion of any sort is not motivated by sexual lust or infatuation, but control, power and manipulation.



Post 88

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 4:36pmSanction this postReply
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James,

Would you exclude fear?

Also, just for the record, your evaluation of "spiritual rapist" was not based solely on Branden's writings on the motivation for dishonesty at that time in history. Is my own understanding here correct?

From the way you word things, this suddenly became vague to me.

Michael





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Post 89

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 4:50pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Do you mean Branden was lying because of some rational fear on his part? Really?

I think my argument is clear.



Post 90

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:12pmSanction this postReply
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James,

Actually I was thinking of some kind of irrational fear. (What is rational fear anyway? Isn't fear an emotion?)

The fear I am talking about is the one that comes from holding someone up as a goddess - the whole cult mentality thing.

(On this point and at this exact instant, I am not discussing the merits of who instigated any cult or not - or even whether it existed or not - merely that a cult mentality might have been in his mind back then.)

Thus I am wondering whether a typical cultish fear of the wrath of a leader would be a contributing factor to his dishonesty. It is a standard emotion observable in other similar situations.

On my other question, you sure don't like to answer questions directly, do you? I ask a simple question and you say that it is clear. If it were clear, I wouldn't be asking.

Forget the question, though. I ain't going to play that way.

Michael





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Post 91

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

I will let our readers decide if I can answer questions clearly. What sort of vagueness are you implying about my sources? You have to be clear in the question, too.

As for fear: like all emotions, it can have a rational basis or not. And Branden was not a cult lemming in the sense you mean.

(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 10/29, 5:19pm)




Post 92

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:23pmSanction this postReply
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James,

I prefer to let it go, but since you asked in a manner that showed you did not understand due to my poor phrasing, I will repeat the question:
Also, just for the record, your evaluation of "spiritual rapist" was not based solely on Branden's writings on the motivation for dishonesty at that time in history. Is my own understanding here correct?
Please tell me what you don't understand in this question and I will try to explain it. (But I stand by no longer asking for an answer, since I already stated that.)

Michael




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Post 93

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:36pmSanction this postReply
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Bob Campbell wrote, "What ever happened to the good old-fashioned declaration, "That's none of your business"?

"Besides, when a person has a policy of telling lies to protect privacy, he or she can't exactly announce what issues the lies will be told about, or who the lies will be told to. Such announcements would defeat the purpose of telling the lies."

I am reminded of Harry Binswanger's claim, stated unreservedly to a live audience at an Objectivist conference, that if there were any unflattering aspects of Rand's character or personality, her biographer should keep them under wraps, lest they serve as grist for the mill by those who would seek to discredit her. So are there really any grounds for believing that ARI would release all of Rand's private writings, even those that did her a disservice? Of course, there are none. On the contrary, we have it from the horse's mouth that they would do no such thing. Binswanger's remark along with Peikoff's stated position on privacy lies tell us all that we need to know. Anyone who thinks that we're getting the full story and not some sanitized version designed to protect Rand's reputation should think again!

Does that mean that ARI is obliged to release material that presents Rand in a bad light? Does the failure to do so constitute a sin of omission? I don't think so. Only if ARI declares that they are making a full disclosure, when in fact they are not, can they be accused of deception. But we already know that we aren't going to be getting the whole story if it is less than complimentary. So there's no reason to think otherwise.

As for declaring "That's none of your business," the classic rejoinder has always been that this reply can give away the store by implication, so that a lie is really the only way fully to protect the information from those who have no right to it. Suppose someone says to you, "I heard that Ayn Rand used to be a call girl. Is that true?" If you answer, "That's none of your business," it will almost certainly arouse suspicion, since if it were false, there would be no reason for you not to deny it. So, the claim is that a privacy lie may indeed be warranted, on the grounds that the inquirer has no right to the information nor even to any evidence for believing that it is true.

But what makes this issue particularly interesting is that the argument Rand gives for honesty is that it is a prudential virtue - that when you lie, you have to continue to buttress the lie by further lies, which entangles you in a web of deceit that you can't keep track of, so that you will eventually slip up, resulting in even worse problems than if you had simply told the truth to begin with. Whether this constitutes a sufficient argument against privacy lies depends, I suppose, on the likelihood of your being caught and whether or not the risk is worth taking. Of course, if Rand's prudential argument against lying were valid across the board, it would be valid against privacy lies as well, something that Peikoff might want to consider.

- Bill





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Post 94

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:45pmSanction this postReply
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Bill,

Your argument would have more force if there were any lies told to protect Rand's privacy that we could identify. Also, Dr. Binswanger had no part in, or control over, my project, so I'm not sure how his comments affect the Rand estate's policy or my book. Sounds like his opinion.

MSK,

My sources are only those explicitly identified in the book.



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Post 95

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 6:13pmSanction this postReply
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In Post 74, Neil Parille asked Bob Campbell: "Was Dr. Hospers' voice removed?  He permitted that excerpts of letters he wrote to Rand be included in Letters of Ayn Rand (with a brief comment by him) so I would be surprised if he would not give permission viz-a-viz his voice on the tapes."

As the result of my own research into two of Rand's earlier 60s lectures on aesthetics, I have found that what should have been a 60-minute tape with both John Hospers and Barbara Branden participating in the question-answer discussion was hacked up into a 40-minute tape with Barbara Branden missing and John Hospers an unidentified moderator. As I described it in my piece for Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 regarding Rand's lecture on "The Esthetic Vacuum of Our Age:"
The Ayn Rand Bookstore...markets a companion tape (AR62C) labeled and referred to in their catalog as “The Esthetic Vacuum of Our Age, Q&A,” but referred to on the tape as “Our Esthetic Vacuum.”  All the evidence suggests that it is a tape of the radio broadcast from 3 May 1962, referred to in the “Objectivist Calendar“ (Rand 1962–65a) as “Discussion by Prof. [John] Hospers, Ayn Rand and Barbara Branden.”  It is worth noting that, although the radio programs were scheduled to run an hour in length (Tape AR25C, being 60 minutes in length, conforms to that plan), the Q&A tape is curiously shorter by a significant amount, being only 40 minutes long.  Although Hospers’ name is not listed on the tape’s container or label, or mentioned on the tape itself, his voice is unmistakable, and he asks a number of questions to which Rand responds. Barbara Branden’s voice, however, is nowhere in evidence on the tape.  The most plausible motive for the deletion of fully one-third of the Q&A broadcast would seem to be the consignment of Hospers and Branden, as punishment for their offenses against Rand, respectively, to anonymity (unnamed moderator status) and oblivion—or, in Objectivist terms, to non-Identity and non-Existence.  [emphasis added]
As others have already pointed out, a similar practice is employed in the edited tapes of Rand’s “Lectures on Fiction-Writing”:  any time that Barbara Branden or Nathaniel Branden asks a question or reads an excerpt from a book, their voices are replaced by a voice-over speaker. Peikoff has steadfastly refused to go on record with an explanation of what possible legal or moral reason there can be for this air-brushing of reality. Considering the level of animosity involved, it is not unreasonable to assume the worst.
 
Roger Bissell, Post-Randian musician-writer







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Post 96

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 6:42pmSanction this postReply
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James,

I'd be very surprised if the other people at ARI did not share Harry's opinion on this. If they did not, then it is interesting that not one of his colleagues has in any way contradicted him. We also have Jeff Britting's book as confirmation. Do you seriously think that Britting's biography would have been endorsed by ARI, if it had included unflattering information about Rand, no matter how true it might be?

- Bill



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Post 97

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 7:04pmSanction this postReply
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Nathaniel and Barbara Branden air-brushed the real Ayn Rand out of reality in their respective books and then replaced her with a monster of their own concoction. Peter Fonda rolling around drunk in a phone booth in the movie version of Barbara's book is a bit more egregious a disservice to the truth than simply not mentioning the Brandens. And with their proven litigiousness (N. Branden's threat to sue if Rand published his correspondence to her -- after telling the world she was too old for him to have had a sexual relationship with her! -- is just one of the examples previously cited), it seems reasonable that to avoid any more unpleasant entanglements with the Brandens simply omitting their actionable contributions might be the easiest solution.

Why don't we demand that Nathaniel Branden give his permission to publish his private correspondences to Rand? Obviously, if they were made public at the time to answer his public insinuation that the Break was caused by Rand's unrequited love, they would have been more helpful in terms of setting the record straight. But Rand chose silence then, as well -- because she wanted no more to do with the Brandens.




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Post 98

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 7:27pmSanction this postReply
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Roger,

I honestly do not mean this in an insulting way (and considering the length of some of the posts on this thread, it would be understandable), but you do not seem to have actually read the posts here when you exclude any other "possible reason" than your "worst" assumptions without addressing any of the relevant posts discussing them.

Bill,

I know of many who differ with Binswanger about many things at ARI, so your assumption is not a valid one at all. That a difference is not stated in public is hardly conclusive as to it's existence. My "surprise" would be at the opposite. From what I hear, strong differences of opinion about my book exist at ARI, for example.

How does the Britting book prove suppression? What "unflattering" material do you believe was suppressed?



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Post 99

Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 7:50pmSanction this postReply
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Casey, you wrote:
Why don't we demand that Nathaniel Branden give his permission to publish his private correspondences to Rand?
Very good suggestion. Bravo.

Not just Nathaniel either. Others who wrote to Rand also.

That I like.

(I would bonk you, but there's that monster thing I don't agree with.)

Michael






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