One of the most fascinating (and rather amusing) aspects of the “Objectivist movement” is the tendency to throw pants-shitting tantrums, and/or resort to “evasion” in regard to Ayn Rand.
More specifically: those affiliated with/sympathetic to ARI (the “Ayn Rand Institute”) have spent the past several decades (since the Brandens’ published their respective “tell-all” books) engaged in the equivalent of standing there with their fingers stuck in their ears, repeating “Na-na-na, I can’t hear you!”
They don’t want to admit that Ayn Rand was anything less that (in effect) an “avatar” of Aristotle. More accurately, “Orthodox” Objectivist folk-mythology requires that they view Ayn Rand as effectively a “messianic” figure – of unbreached virture — who was betrayed by Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. (Essentially a recycled “jesus/Judas” thing — which is damnably ironic for such an explicitly anti-religious philosophical movement).
The Rand=messiah narrative combines with the fact that Rand (stupidly) designated a legal and intellectual “heir” — first, Nathaniel Branden, and subsequently Leonard Peikoff — to generate the Objectivist version of “apostolic succession”. David Kelley’s “Atlas Society” faction only happened because David Kelley and other “heretics” refused to placidly slink off, and abandon Objectivism post-“Excommunication”.
At any rate, the two most damning things about David Kelley’s faction are the fact that they (in contrast to ARI partisans) “Morally sanction” (IE: interact with/fail to frantically denounce) stuff that Rand herself hated — specifically, Libertarians, Nathaniel & Barbara Branden, etc.
For ARI partisans, failure to reflexively and uncritically ape/parrot Ayn Rand has always amounted to “betrayal” — mostly because Ayn Rand — like any 1960s-style “guru” — HAD to be at least implicitly treated as both omniscient AND infallible. There are two reasons for this:
- If Ayn Rand was human (IE: neither omniscient, nor infallible — AND possessed of a volitional consciousness — capable — EVEN IN PRINCIPLE — of the same sort of “evasions” and “blank-outs” as anyone else — then her “followers” would have to resort to evaluating her statements AND ACTIONS instead of mindlessly aping/parroting. That defeats the purpose of the “Objectivist movement” itself — herd conformity and a party-line.
- Questioning Ayn Rand at all was (invariably) mis-read as an “attack”, which would (inevitably) result in one of two results: Rand would “break” with the recalcitrant individual (IE: Murray Rothbard, John Hospers, the Brandens etc.) — OR the recalcitrant individual would STFU, and continue to toe the Objectivist “Party line”.
The above facts are too blatantly obvious to be refuted. That’s where James Valiant’s book The Passion of Ayn Rand’s critics comes in.
Essentially, Valliant’s book — by merely existing — paints Rand as a credulous dupe, betrayed by the Machiavellian supervillian-duo, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. The problem with this is: it “exonerates” Rand from any culpability for “The Break” etc. — by means of making her inept.
Which of course, would be equivalent to John Galt (the hero of Atlas Shrugged) being systematically tricked and duped by James Taggart.