Quite frankly, Ayn Rand’s dogged insistence on a “legal and intellectual heir” (out of all of her other abysmally stupid mistakes), is what pretty much guarantees that “Objectivism” will fail, in terms of broad cultural change.
The reason is: Ayn Rand tended to “break” with recalcitrant questioners (John Hospers, Murray Rothbard etc.) She also ended up “excommunicating” Nathaniel and Barbara Branden — and then attempting to “rationalize” having done so, after the fact. (The blatant hypocrisy of NOT removing Nathaniel Branden’s articles from subsequent editions of “her” various philosophical nonfiction books is, quite frankly, obvious: I “get” why she did this — she couldn’t just dump the Branden’s down some sort of Orwellian “Memory hole”, since earlier editions of the books — and the ‘zine in which most of the articles originally appeared — still existed. Moreover (since Ayn Rand was incapable of completing a systematic treatment of “her” philosophy despite having attempted — and abandoned — the project TWICE), if she had simply “excised” Nathaniel Branden’s articles, the result would have been even more woefully incomplete than most of “her” philosophical nonfiction already is — which would have seriously undercut her own status as “guru”.
At any rate: Ayn Rand herself tended to drive off the most creative and independent thinkers. She also (mistakenly) treated “her” philosophy in a somewhat “Platonic” fashion (IE: her babblings about whether or not she had “authorized” a given presentation, or not.)
(I can’t help wondering — at least in passing: Nathaniel Branden got to “tap that ass” (as both he and his then-wife Barbara detail in their respective “Tell-all” books); Did Peikoff? Could that be at least part of why he has become progressively weirder about the “Legal and intellectual heir”/”Foremost living expert on Objectivism” schtick over the last few decades? He can’t help but at least implicitly realize that he is (in effect) wallowing in Nathaniel Branden’s “sloppy seconds”, EVEN NOW — DECADES AFTER AYN RAND’S DEATH.
let’s think about this:
- Rand (mis)understands her own BDSM/dom-sub fetish as expressive of the “Essence of femininity” (IE: “hero-worship”, no female president, “being chained”, the “benevolent rape scene”, etc.)
- Rand (mis)applies her “sexual desire = metaphysical value judgment” thing as necessarily implying that she and N.B. had to fuck — solely on the basis of “their own highest values”, etc. In other words, Rand ends up reifying her own, bizarre BDSM-tinged version of “gender-roles” as a philosophical primary. Rand = female = “hero-worshipper” = “second-handed” = “hard-fucked by her ‘ideal man’. etc.
- Since N.B. is (as he put it later during the Benefits and hazards of the philosophy of Ayn Rand article) pretty damned close to Rand’s notion of an “ideal man”, she attempts to essentially “live out” the part in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny (good little “hero-worshiping”/slut-pig that she is) expresses the “essence” of her femininity by repeatedly allowing herself to be “conquered” by a series of (progressively) more and more “ideal men” — Francisco, Rearden, Francisco (again), Galt, etc. — on the assumption that those “ideal men” will exhibit absolutely no jealousy or possessiveness over the fact that Dagny is expressing her “highest philosophical values” by allowing herself to be “conquered” by the others.
Now, notice something right from the get-go: Rand was utterly unable to comprehend the fact that she herself did NOT live in one of her shitty, schlock novels. The idea that (for example) Frank O’connor might resent the fact that his wife was being power-fucked by one of her “students” — let alone that the WIFE of her student might exhibit any sort of qualms about the whole thing — was flatly incomprehensible to her.
In other words: Ayn Rand was a stupid, negligent, pseudo-intellectual slut, who attempted to “live out” her shitty, pseudo-intellectual schlock with disastrous consequences for everyone concerned.
Because, you see: Nathaniel Branden was also firmly committed to the notion that females (as part of the “essence of femininity”) would – as a matter of metaphysical necessity — be utterly drawn to the idea of “living out their deepest philosophical values” by being hard-fucked by an “ideal man”. Thus: the fact that he was power-fucking another woman (ONE OF HIS OWN “STUDENTS”) was basically inevitable. Moreover, Rand should not have exhibited any jealousy or petulance whatsoever — given the fact that – in her novels — “hero-worshiping” females were more or less beholden to “hero-worship” any “ideal” man they encountered, by allowing him to “chain” and “conquer” them, etc. etc.
So, yeah: Rand was a hypocrite, in that she treated her jealousy about N.B. fucking another woman (an EMOTIONAL REACTION) as a “tool of cognition”. she threw a petulant tantrum, systematically destroyed NBI, exiled the two individuals most responsible for elevating pseudo-intellectual schlock into a “philosophy for living on Earth”. That is the ONLY reason Peikoff hasn’t spent the last several decades languishing in N.B.’s shadow.
In other words: Peikoff’s current status within ARI is ontologically dependent on the fact that Ayn Rand was a pseudo-intellectual, whim-worshiping slut who tried to blank-out the fact that her previous “legal and intellectual heir” was fucking another woman behind her back (besides his own wife, of course — Barbara Branden was evidently just supposed to STFU.)
Then, when she could no longer evade the fact that she was NOT living in one of her own novels, she (and her entire gaggle of pretentious “New Intellectuals” surrounding her — ended up systematically self-destructing.
The WHOLE subsequent “development” of the Objectivist movement consists of various attempts to either:
A. Recreate NBI (the “Nathaniel Branden Institute”)
B. Evade various (inconvenient) “Facts of reality” about Ayn Rand, herself
At any rate: when she was alive, Ayn Rand paid vigorous lip-service to “intellectual independence” and “integrity” and other such glittering generalities — while also being a petulant little bitch who tended to “break” with others whose bootlicking was insufficiently vigorous.
Thus, the so-called “Ayn Rand cult” mentioned by Rothbard and (regrettably) Scott Walker.
These two tendencies (authoritarianism and “moral sanction” as a form of emotional blackmail) — once “institutionalized” (by way of her “legal and intellectual heir”) pretty much guaranteed what many have described as the “circular firing-squad”: the “Objectivist movement” as an endless proliferation of “schisms” and factional squabbling, all of it obsessed over WWARD — “What would Ayn Rand Do?”
So that’s why Peikoff’s interaction with the broader “Fox news”-style Conservative “movement” is o perplexing. I simply cannot wrap my mind around the kind of blank-outs involved in failure to notice the overt pandering to the “Dominionist” wing of Protestant Christianity during the Bush administration — let alone the fact that Republicans tend to (mis)understand corporate cronyism as a “Free Market”.
And yet, this is the same guy who threw a pants-shitting tantrum over the fact that David Kelley would “morally sanction” Libertarians by giving a speech.
The “Objectivist movement” is a damned mess. What makes it interesting is the fact that it almost exactly parallels the interaction between the “Church” of Scientology, and the so-called “FreeZone”:
To paraphrase Peikoff, there are definitely some “ominous parallels”:
- Both Objectivism and Dianetics/Scientology were originated by hack novelists with a pseudo-intellectual bent.
- In both cases, the aforementioned pseudo-intellectual schlock-monger created an organization dedicated to “saving the world” by means of promoting that pseudo-intellectual schlock.
- In both cases, the first “iteration” of the “movement” was more or less systematically destroyed by the founder of the movement.
- Both “movements” involve an organization claiming to be “authorized” by disseminate the pseudo-intellectual schlock, and another (more nebulous) version of the “movement” running in parallel with that organization, and attampting to actually make the pseudo-intellectual schlock useful and applicable to “real life.
- BOTH “movements” are widely regarded by “outsiders” as ridiculous and/or pathetic, and have a vast amount of overtly negative “expose”-type literature dedicated to “exposing”/discrediting/parodying the “movement”.