I am currently slogging my way through Leonard Peikoff’s “the philosophy of Objectivism” audio lecture course from 1976. ARI (The “Ayn Rand Institute”) is — in an amazingly desperate attempt at “outreach” — is dumping vast amounts of stuff online — mostly Peikoff’s tape-lectures.
In an attempt to appear “scholarly”, they’ve grafted a series of softball (multiple choice) questions onto the end of each lecture. The whole thing is basically an admission that ARI — peikoff’s attempt to recreate NBI (the “nathaniel Branden Institute”) is a bust.
Absent the attempt by leonard Peikoff to re-create NBI (the “Nathaniel Branden institute”) Rand would have vanished into well-deserved obscurity decades ago. As it is, Neo-Randians “downstream” are finding it increasingly necessary to cover-up/excuse/justify anything and everything Ayn Rand ever said or did — without regard to how blatantly stupid or evil.
Objectivism stands no chance of becoming an influential intellectual movement. Rand’s novels/nonfiction are available dirt-cheap (“First sale doctrine” FTW!), so every subsequent edition is effectively “competing” with every previous edition. The good thing about this is: every time you buy a “used” copy, Peikoff doesn’t see a dime! 🙂
Moreover, the Brandens’ respective tell-all books are also available. Same thing with every stupid gaffe Rand ever made during her various speeches/Q&A sessions, etc.
Probably the dumbest of these is Rand’s seething hatred for Libertarianism.
Ayn Rand’s yawping idiocy with regard to the Libertarian movement is self-defeating, for two reasons:
- The Libertarian movement is the only genuinely fertile ground for Rand’s notions of laisez-faire capitalism. (Right-wing “Conservatism” is a hash of corporate cronyism, would-be theocrats, racists/xenophobes, runaway leave it to beaver mythology/nostalgia, etc.)
- The last time Peikoff/Binswanger etc. threw a pants-shitting tantrum over Libertarianism (1991), David Kelley failed to placidly STFU and take his “excommunication” lying down. In other words, “Atlas Society” happened. ARI provoked the creation of its most direct “competitor” (another organizational nexus claiming to be derived from “Ayn Rand’s ideas”).
So, yeah: even ARI-types are smart enough to understand the fact that Rand’s anti-Libertarian screeds are self-defeating. Moreover, the longer since the NBI days, the less interesting/relevant any of that becomes. (Nobody in their right mind gives two liquidy shits whether Frank O’connor did — or did not — have “a drinking problem”, let alone whether or not he kept liquor bottles around, and re-purposed them to hold/wash brushes. It isn’t even “trivia”.
Ayn Rand, Frank O’Connor, and the Brandens are dead. Peikoff is alive, but is rapidly approaching the point of self-parody (The “DIM Hypothesis” was — at best — a clunky restatement of existing trichotomies which have been prevalent in Objectivist literature for decades (Plato/Aristotle/Kant, Intrinsic/Objective/Subjective, Rationalist/Objectivist/Empiricist, etc.)
So anyway, ARI is desperately attempting “outreach”. They are also (desperately) attempting to “rehabilitate” Ayn Rand — which is, flatly, impossible:
Quite frankly, there’s some pretty damning information out there:
- The “Benevolent rape scene” in the Fountainhead.
- Rand’s (amazingly stupid) statements about “native Americans”, the “hero worship” bullshit (IE: no female president, because the essence of femininity is “being chained), etc.
- The fact that she cuckolded her “Anchor husband” (Frank O’Connor) with Nathaniel Branden, and then threw a shit-fit when she found out that HE was fucking another woman. (So much for the Objectivist obsession with sex as an “expression of one’s deepest philosophical values”.
- Both Barbara and Nathaniel Branden’s tell-all books are (still) available (like I said above)
- ARI (stupidly) published Journals of Ayn Rand.
So, yeah: Ayn Rand is, quite frankly, beyond rehabilitating — a pseudo-intellectual, slutty, chain-smoking shrew of a woman who deliberately destroyed the first version of her own philosophical movement, “excommunicated” everyone involved with creating that movement/giving it coherence — who couldn’t even manage to write a newsletter correctly on her own is, quite frankly, unworthy of admiration or any sort of respect, whatsoever.
Ayn Rand was a hack novelist with a BDSM-fetish who managed to surround herself with a gaggle of gullible acolytes (“The collective”) — most of whom she then managed to alienate and/or exile. She ended up as an embittered joke, to the point where the last year or so of issues of her newsletter were incorrectly dated by over a year.