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Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 6:31pmSanction this postReply
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Both the frequent negative moral evaluations of other Objectivists and the bitter personal denunciations between major figures over the years from Rand on down are supremely silly. There may be a few cases where someone has done something totally immoral and unforgivable so that you can't appear in the same room with them, but my observation of all of these splits, schism, and fallings out over the years is that those cases are extremely few. Most of them fall short of major moral failure or evil.

They are instead the product of a movement which is more Nietzschean, sharp-elbowed and socially immature than it would like to admit. And with the ability to fairly judge other people of a particularly obtuse adolescent.

No one seems to admit the possibility of misunderstanding or misstatement or misinterpretation in -any- of these disputes between the major figures over the years. It's always evil this or monster that or vicious mediocrity here or trying to cash in on Ayn Rand's name there or you never even believed in Objectivism and you are just a power luster...

[ The latest and silliest example just *today* is that Linz has withdrawn from the TOC conference because he expects them -not- to invite a range of speakers who happen to have some of these bitter conflicts going on with him .... or to not invite ordinary attendees who have insulted him. What are they supposed to do, keep month by month track of who is on the outs with who...and then warn each of them that the other is coming? Or to read every single book and keep up with all the detailed arguments and counter-arguments regarding the accuracy or honesty of what happened to Rand's circle decades ago and invite people based on one's reading of that, rather than their present merits as a lecturer? Having converted themselvese into the morality police investigating forty year old crimes, when would they have time to do their intellectual work developing and spreading Objectivism? And would that even be a good way to run a conference, to have to pass moral judgment with certainty on that, rather than to judge the merits of a speaker? ]

I want to say for the record that if I were ever to run a conference or a publication, I expect I would give exactly NO thought to jumping through hoops trying to evaluate the moral character of my speakers unless it is one thousand percent certain and not a disputed matter that they are on the level of Adolph Hitler...or some equivalent...or advocates of some totally vicious doctrines. What I will evaluate is their intellectual competence and the truth of their ideas. Nor would I give any thought to whether my allies get along or hate each other, as long as they are not disruptive. Nor would I give much thought to whether I would lose people who just can't stand to be in the same auditorium. I would tell them to grow up.

And, no, I'm not "sanctioning" the speakers or writers by the above policy. That is a STUPID idea and always was. The concept is reserved for people like totalitarians, skinheads, islamofascists, etc.

Not for honest Objectivists, who, yes, do make mistakes or have done stupid or unjust things in the past --- Placing Rand or Branden or Kelley or Peikoff on the level of brutes or genocidal monsters is a gross and unjust exaggeration.

[ And don't even waste my time with an angry moralistic contextless flag-waving rebuttal, inappropriately using the Rand "judge and be prepared to be judged quote", and exaggerating and demonizing the mistakes of your enemies that you couldn't even stand to appear in the same magazine with or at the same event or in the same anthology or book or bookstore with. ]

...I mean this is just so dumb it almost leaves me speechless.

Philip Coates



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Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 7:44pmSanction this postReply
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Have noticed this  for over 45 some years, Phil - and is why never officially joined any group, only at most aggregates of individuals [and that include this gathering here]..  always seemed so contrary to how had envisioned it all, and at times have wondered if, say, Aristotle had those problems back then even.......



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Post 2

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 11:14pmSanction this postReply
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Philip, timely reporting and commentary. When I am able to read and participate in the bifurcated SOLO remnants, I do so much more here at ROR, though there are some wonderful personalities who choose to post exclusively over there.

Sad to see the dozen recent jumpshippers at Lindsay's site . . . the expulsions and self-banishments from there seem to me so unnecessary, so abrupt, too much born of frustration and anger and hurt. I like Joe's site. He doesn't lurch about and bash people as much, and seems pleased to put his foot forward firmly without afterwards kicking at others who also have feet.

Here's a quote from Lindsay's self-description on his ROR profile:

He is proud of what SOLO has achieved. He is thrilled that in SOLOHQ, thanks to Prime Minister Rowlands & Minister Landauer, SOLO can boast the best Objectivist web site there is. He is delighted that SOLO provides a forum where Objectivists of all allegiances can engage each other, & the world, free from the "I have nothing to gain from dealing with you - begone!" nonsense that seems to be 'de rigueur' among some Objectivists.


One of my online friends who shares a fascination with objectivism says that this particular corner of the O-world is shaped by loneliness -- she says that many of the more reactive, belligerent folk are desperately lonesome and hurting for something. She says objectivism is the perfect philosophic cover for sociopathy.

I don't agree with her -- since it explains too much to be credible -- but perhaps a kind of isolation and defensive, 'outsider' stance (vis-a-vis the towering odds against objectivism) do shape a bit of the belligerence and relentless downing of others . . . what you think, Philip? Is that just cheap and uninformed psychologizing? I witness the recent ugly tirades and bickering at SOLOpassion (Valliant vs Evil Round 95) . . . online exchanges are okay, but I don't want to be trapped in the same hall as the belligerents. An idiot is an idiot whether I denounce him or not.

Me, when I find the time to post, I now try for a lighter touch, considering what my friend has said, pace Lincoln's reaction to a bellicose woman who didn't understand why he cultivated Confederates:

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."


WSS



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Post 3

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 11:30pmSanction this postReply
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Phil, in general I agree with your position. However, I do think Linz made the right decision. TOC did not inform him of Barbara Branden being invited to speak at the conference. Given the fact that she has slandered him with the unjust charge of being an alcoholic, failing to provide any evidence of it, and failing to apologize to Linz; I can see why he would not want to have anything to do with her. Until she apologizes in earnest, there is no reason for Linz to try to bridge the gap. TOC knew of this and either failed to take the situation into consideration as well as failling to inform Linz, or purposely set this situation up (I'm not saying that this is what happened, but I would consider it a possiblity in light of a lack of evidence for the motive of TOC's actions) I do understand their policy on not discussing the private life of Ayn Rand and their ban on PARC, PAR, and JD from their online store. However, they do need to take account of Barbara's history when considering to invite her to speak about anger management. The fact that she would rather stand by a lie (in regard to the alleged Perigo is an alcoholic, a lie that wasn't even her lie originally) made in anger than seek the truth or at least apologize, shows that her anger-management skills need improvement, and that inviting her to speak on such a topic is a laughable hypocrisy. For TOC to ignore this shows a great lack of moral insight on their part and a lack of respect for Linz.



Post 4

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 11:44pmSanction this postReply
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      One thing I always admired about the Playboy mag (apart from it's Centerfolds, of course; that WAS its raison d'etre, non? And yes: I DID read [well, some of] the articles): It was clearly non-partisan re any type of ideology (it's publisher's obvious prefs nwst) re its Interviews.

     --- It was (haven't, uh, 'read' it, lately) akin (as *I* see it) to, believe it or not, C-SPAN 's morning call-in show (I know, I know: "What a 'comparison'!")

     Ntl, where else could one COUNT ON the...variety...of being able to read one month an interview with Ayn Rand, another month one with Jimmy Carter, then one with George Lincoln Rockwell, then with Henry Fonda, and then Malcolm X, then Ralph Nader, and Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and Alex Haley, and even Calvin Klein (fer Pete's sakes!), all...obviously at this point...with clearly NO 'partisan' orientation at subjects-interviewed.

     Lines 'drawn-in-the-sand' SHOULD be made...to clarify distinctions, and, the reasons for them. B-U-T, such lines should not be made, nor used as, clarifications about "THEM=demons; US=Angels; you with 'them' or you with 'us'" (I grant, there IS a place for THAT, definitely; but, not in *my* present context-point) --- Lines drawn, for whatever 'purposes', should have the context of their purposes clarified; that is, IF the context is: "NO POINT IN DISCUSSING ANYTHING WITH 'X'"...it-should-be-spelled-out-by-the-line-drawer rather than snide side-commentings...or...arbitrary 'demands' about behaviour-changes, AND, the 'reasons/rationales' themselves also spelled-out.

     Beyond that, such sand-drawn lines re one context do not imply a necessity of lines drawn in other contexts.
 
     I am so tempted to ask "Why can't we all, just, 'get along'?", but [ducks] I think the better way to put this is: "Why do so many of our activist-'leaders' seem to need to find some rationale to officially exclude the Worth of disagreers on point 'X', 'Y', or 'Z'?

     When 'lines-drawn-in-the-sand' have been shown to do with a bona-fidely clear (and, rationally-argued) point about the Morality of an agreement-disagreement about point 'A' or 'B', sure: Say "Get thee behind me Satan", or "Quoth the Raven: NEVERMORE", or "But, I don't think of you", all implying "I see no point in discussing anything with you from here on out".

     However, until they've been shown, all this 'us-good; you-bad' by any 'sides' is nothing more than National Enquirer 'scandal/gossip' crap, making ant-hills into Himalayas.

     Sheesh.

LLAP
J:D




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Post 5

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 8:11amSanction this postReply
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Phil,

i'm not exactly enamoured with the Brandens right now, but I'm going to the Summer Seminar anyway and I look forward to your talk. I'm more concerned with the topic of Barbara Branden's talk and the format of Nathaniel Branden's extemporaneous interviews than I am about them making an appearance.

If TOC wants to continue a relationship with the Brandens without taking sides, they should have them lecture on topics that don't impinge on  the current and ongoing controversies in the Objectivist movement. I would love to hear a talk by Nathaniel on Romantic Love or a talk by Barbara based on her Principles of Efficient Thinking. Those topics relate to the Objectivist philosophy. If they want to take sides, then they should address the issues in PARC. In any case, they do offer alternative sessions which I will happily avail myself of.

I see the topic of Barbara's talk as a not so subtle swipe at Ayn Rand and Lindsay Perigo. I do not and never have believed Barbara's characterization of Ayn Rand in her biography. I do understand her concern that perfectly innocent objectivists are unfairly insulted by Lindsay occasionally. However, I think her endorsement of James Kilbourne's alcoholic smear was a completely unjust reaction and I do not wish to give the impression that I condone it.

On the other hand, my impression of James and Holly Valliant and Casey Fahy is also in the negative numbers. They seem to be one issue activists and closet defenders of ARI and Leonard Peikoff when it comes to excommunication and social ostracism.

On a happier note, last year TOC put on a terrific Summer Seminar, right up there with 1995 in quality. I'm sure this year will be more of the same :-).

Jim




Post 6

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 7:19amSanction this postReply
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Barbara Braden's subject at the conference is going to be about "Linz's problem" with rage and anger, without bringing up Linz's name.



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Post 7

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 11:31amSanction this postReply
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James, I can address some of your concerns, based on first-hand knowledge.

1. I heard a beta-version of Barbara's "Objectivism, Libertarianism, and Rage" talk several months ago, and she made no mention of Linz or Rand. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon in the worlds of O'ism and L'ism, and Barbara has some juicy ones. As always, if the shoe fits, it is welcome to be worn. :-)  But this talk is, I understand, part of a larger book project Barbara is working on, related to her earlier "efficient thinking" work.

2. Nathaniel's talk is going to be on "What Do I Mean When I Say 'I Love You'?" I'm pretty sure that there is not going to be anything on Rand (or Linz or Valliant, for that matter) in his talk. :-)

3. Speaking of Linz, I'm sure you know by now that he has bowed out of the TOC Summer Seminar. Too bad. But there might have been a fire hazard, with that much inflammatory material in the same building. :-)  I don't know anything about Linz's chemical habits or lack of same, but I get the oddest sense of deja vu when I read his over the top posts and reflect on the dearly departed Larry Fullmer.

4. I won't be speaking at TOC-SS, but I will be playing, singing, and talking about jazz and romantic melodies, along with my pianist Ben Di Tosti, on the evening of July 4 (unless the Party Animals induce a rescheduling of our concert). Also, if TOC accepts my offer, my CD will be for sale at the book display area, with all proceeds to be donated to TOC's Objectivist History project.

5. I think this year's TOC-SS will be fantastic. And unlike some who yearn for a KASS event, I think a KMASS event will suffice. :-)

Keep your powder dry and your abstractions thawed!
REB




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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 12:10pmSanction this postReply
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Roger,

I'm glad to hear Nathaniel is giving a talk on romantic love. It should be great! I've wanted to hear him address the subject for years. i doubt I'll listen to Barbara's talk but that's OK I've always had a very long fuse and I'm not terribly incendiary :-).

And Roger, I seriously doubt Linz is going to go Hemingway on us ala Larry Fulmer, much as you might relish the thought. But if we find some anarchists, Saddamites and pedophiles dead in the remote wilds of idaho (or New Zealand) we might know where to start looking :-).

Jim




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Post 9

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 12:19pmSanction this postReply
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Adam Buker wrote,
"Given the fact that she has slandered him with the unjust charge of being an alcoholic, failing to provide any evidence of it, and failing to apologize to Linz; I can see why he would not want to have anything to do with her."

To those who may not be aware of it, Barbara Branden has clearly explained here (via David M. Brown) that she mistakenly assumed that Linz's willingness to publish the Drooling Beast article must have been based on his agreeing that he had a problem with alcohol (http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1327_6.shtml#129).

J




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Post 10

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 1:41pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara Branden's subject at the conference is going to be about "Linz's problem" with rage and anger, without bringing up Linz's name.
No wonder Linz isn't attending! Can you blame him?! Even if he would have attended had she spoken on a topic that didn't allude to him personally, he certainly wouldn't attend with Barbara speaking on that topic! Last I checked, Linz was no masochist.

Maybe Barbara's talk should include the adverse affects of a lifetime of tobacco consumption. That way, she could take a veiled swipe not only at Ayn Rand but also at herself. As long as we're pointing fingers, we might as well look ourselves in the mirror.

- Bill

(Edited by William Dwyer
on 2/15, 1:50pm)




Post 11

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 3:38pmSanction this postReply
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BTW - where are people seeing the Conference schedule? I don't see it on TOC's site.



Post 12

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 4:05pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

They haven't posted it yet. Most of this stuff is from Barbara or other sources. I did not know the topic of Nathaniel's talk. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Roger mention that he would lecture on romantic love after the interviews of the last couple of years.

Jim




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Post 13

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 4:16pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara had been talking about writing on that topic long before there was any conflict between her and Lindsay. In fact, when she joined SOLO staff as a Writer In Residence, that was supposed to be her first topic. At that time, it was supposed to be about how moral outrage was bad. It wasn't about rage and anger in general, just moral outrage. And it wasn't targeted at Lindsay or anyone else in particular.

Since she never wrote it, I'm not positive what her argument was supposed to be. At the time, she hadn't worked it out, except that she wanted to prove that moral outrage was never worth it.

I'm also not sure if the topic transformed into something more personal, or if that's just in the eyes of onlookers.




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Post 14

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 5:58pmSanction this postReply
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Joe Rowland is exactly correct about Barbara's topic. The De Niro act that Linz is currently affecting ("you talkin' about me? you talkin' about me?), and that others are affecting on his behalf, is entirely gratuitous. Sadly, however, par for the course.

Some may recall that I posted a lengthy report on Barbara's talk on SOLO HQ back in November. It is still in the archives. You can see for yourselves what her talk was about, and to whom it made reference -- and, of course, to whom it did not. (And this was well AFTER her split with Linz.)

BTW, I have received one rather irate email offlist, accusing me of either bad taste or extremely scurrilous behavior, depending on whether I did not or did know that Larry Fullmer committed suicide.

With all due respect to those for whom negative reference to the departed is unacceptably rude or immoral, I don't see the point. Also, I was not referring to how Larry died, nor therefore wishing that Linz would emulate Larry's behavior.

My point was simply that, whether or not Linz's sizeable swings between affability and extremely angry, abusive posting were alcohol-induced, they reminded me of someone whose similar swings were alcohol-induced.

Anger management is a serious problem, and it is not something that should be swept under the rug. Even some of my biggest heroes have had this problem. Like Ayn Rand. Being a hero is no excuse for bad behavior.

REB

(Edited by Roger Bissell on 2/15, 6:01pm)




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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 8:53pmSanction this postReply
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Roger,

You and I must live in two different Objectivist and libertarian movements, because Linz is the first person I've seen with huge, angry outbursts. If I want to avoid his anger there are plenty of places I can go. And if Rand were really the way she is described in the biographies, I would have left her alone quickly. I wouldn't have taken it no matter how smart she was or what she was discovering. Not up close.

Angry people don't want to be fixed, so why not simply accept them as they are or write them off or keep them at arm's length if you don't like the heat. Be honest with them. I don't even think Linz cares how many people are at his site as long as people don't pretend to like him if they don't.

Edit- Well maybe there's Linz and Diana Hsieh who get white hot angry a lot :-).


Jim

(Edited by James Heaps-Nelson on 2/15, 9:01pm)




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Post 16

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 11:03pmSanction this postReply
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As a practical matter it's quite easy for an entire week to avoid people you don't get along with at these summer conferences. They are usually 200-300 people and in the past, there are always people I see for the first time on the last day (unfortunately that too often includes attractive women who seem to have been deliberately hiding from me for a week.) In the auditoriums, in the cafeterias, even in the evening social period in the common room, there are lots of subgroups gathering in different places in those quite large rooms.



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Post 17

Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 10:30pmSanction this postReply
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I just had another thought on this:

In addition to the fact that it is usually possible to avoid direct interaction with someone in the kinds of circumstances discussed in this thread, another issue is the practical results of cutting off your nose to spite your face:

You paint yourself into a corner if you refuse to be at the same event or conference or in the same publication as Mr. X or Ms. Y. If he or she accepts first at an event that is important to you or advances your ideas or provides you with a platform...or maybe just is enjoyable to you, then he gets to attend and you don't. If he or she accepts later, then you have to withdraw, perhaps at considerable inconvenience to you and to the people holding the event...who are then likely to not want to deal with you in the future if you are constantly backing out of things. In other words: "I am so morally opposed to this person that I will allow them to succeed and my own career or causes or freedom of action to be damaged or circumscribed rather than attend something which in fact would have caused me no great difficulty or hardship."

If Z is really your enemy and wants to harm you, if this your policy on attending or participating, then all he has to do is dreadfully insult you or provoke you, then find out all the events and venues you would like to attend and show up at every one so you can't attend any of them. Gilbert and Sullivan could have done something with this.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 2/16, 10:35pm)




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Post 18

Friday, February 17, 2006 - 9:39pmSanction this postReply
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Johnathan said:
To those who may not be aware of it, Barbara Branden has clearly explained here (via David M. Brown) that she mistakenly assumed that Linz's willingness to publish the Drooling Beast article must have been based on his agreeing that he had a problem with alcohol (http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1327_6.shtml#129)

I say:
That doesn't matter. Before she could even think of endorsing that kind of a claim, she needed more factual information which she did not gather. This could have been done by talking to close friends of Lindsay in private, and by talking Lindsay himself. Even with that bit of information notwithstanding, she has not issued a personal or a public apology in her role in the smear campaign. When you assume you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me' .

Adam



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Post 19

Friday, February 17, 2006 - 11:35pmSanction this postReply
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I should have commented on this earlier, but better late than never. In his opening remarks, Phil wrote,
I want to say for the record that if I were ever to run a conference or a publication, I expect I would give exactly NO thought to jumping through hoops trying to evaluate the moral character of my speakers unless it is one thousand percent certain and not a disputed matter that they are on the level of Adolph Hitler...or some equivalent...or advocates of some totally vicious doctrines. What I will evaluate is their intellectual competence and the truth of their ideas.
You mean that someone would not only have to be genocidal monster, but that his status as such could not even be in dispute, before you would consider dissociating from him? Phil, I don't think this begins to make sense. Think about what you just said! There are any number of bad people in the world who don't come close to someone like Hitler, whom it would not only be immoral, but absolutely foolish to associate or deal with. For instance, there are many people who believe O.J. Simpson is innocent, even though you and I both know he's guilty. Yet he's no Adolph Hitler. Would you invite him to speak, if he expressed support for Objectivism? According to your stated criteria, you could have no moral opposition to it.
Nor would I give any thought to whether my allies get along or hate each other, as long as they are not disruptive. Nor would I give much thought to whether I would lose people who just can't stand to be in the same auditorium. I would tell them to grow up.
I don't think this makes a whole lot of sense either. You can't expect people who hate each other to enjoy attending a conference together. It's not a matter of "growing up." It's a matter of valuing the experience. Human beings aren't robots who can turn off their feelings at a moment's notice. You don't want a conference in which your speakers aren't enjoying themselves, one in which you have a lot of animosities simmering below the surface, just waiting to erupt. Common sense should tell you that it's best to avoid this kind of unstable mixture.
And, no, I'm not "sanctioning" the speakers or writers by the above policy. That is a STUPID idea and always was. The concept is reserved for people like totalitarians, skinheads, islamofascists, etc.
Well, if you invite someone to speak at your conference, you presumably do so, because you think that they have something valuable to offer. In that respect, you are sanctioning them. As for their moral character, if someone has a history of lying, cheating and stealing, and you offer them the value of exposure, give them a platform to speak, and perhaps even pay them for their contribution, aren't you saying, in effect, that their moral character should have no bearing on the manner in which you deal with them? Even if you personally decide to overlook their obvious character flaws, what you appear to be saying is that it is stupid for anyone else not to overlook them. How can you possibly say this? You are saying, in effect, that it is wrong to condemn someone who is blatantly immoral by refusing to validate and support his activities--unless he is no better than a Hitler.
Not for honest Objectivists, who, yes, do make mistakes or have done stupid or unjust things in the past --- Placing Rand or Branden or Kelley or Peikoff on the level of brutes or genocidal monsters is a gross and unjust exaggeration.
Yes, it is an unjust exaggeration, but aren't you making the same error in the opposite direction, by refusing to condemn someone unless he or she is as BAD as a genocidal monster?? To say that you should tolerate anyone who isn't a monster is no better than saying you should treat anyone who isn't perfect as if he or she WERE a monster. Where's your sense of proportion here? You're committing the same kind of exaggerated moral evaluation that you're accusing your opponents of making, and giving them grist for the mill in the process. (See Diana Hsieh's comments on your post in her latest blog (Feb. 27).

- Bill



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