Main

January 31, 2014

JARS 2014: Project MUSE and Other Developments

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be publishing its 14th volume this year, and we are happy to report that Project MUSE will begin its coverage of the journal with the appearance of our first 2014 issue in July. As the Project MUSE site explains:

Project MUSE is a leading provider of digital humanities and social sciences content; since 1995, its electronic journal collections have supported a wide array of research needs at academic, public, special, and school libraries worldwide. MUSE books and journals, from leading university presses and scholarly societies, are fully integrated for search and discovery.
MUSE currently includes: 303,411 articles and 592,408 chapters by 234 publishers

2014 JARS content won't actually appear in searches or on the site until the publication of our first 2014 issue, scheduled for a July 2014 appearance (though MUSE does have searchable content for my recently published second expanded edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical... jeez, if I can't plug my own book, who can?).

And what an issue Volume 14, Number 1 promises to be; it will include many first-time authors in the expanding universe of Rand scholarship. And it will also include a mini-symposium on Robert L. Campbell's lengthy article, which appeared in Volume 13, Number 1, "An End to Over and Against," which reviews recent biographical-historical studies of Rand: Jennifer Burns's book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and Anne C. Heller's book, Ayn Rand and the World She Made. The mini-symposium includes replies from Jennifer Burns, Anne C. Heller, and Mimi Reisel Gladstein, as well as a rejoinder from Campbell. What a time to be discussing recent, independent biographical work on Rand, especially in light of the passing of the first biographer to publish an "authorized" biography in Ayn Rand's lifetime, my dear friend, Barbara Branden.

There are so many other essays to look forward to in the coming issue, which will use the occasion to mark the passing of Barbara Branden, as well as another Rand scholar, Allan Gotthelf, who passed away in August 2013. He was not a friend of the journal or my work, but he was one of the founders of the Ayn Rand Society of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. Much more to follow... stay tuned.

Finally, subscribers should check the changes made to the 2014 price schedule, found here.

January 08, 2014

Russian Radical 2.0: A Kindle Edition and Revised Revisions

I recently published a Notablog series on "Russian Radical 2.0" as I've called it: the newly published second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical:

Part 1: The Cover
Part 2: The Cover Story
Part 3: 1995 vs. 2013: What's Different?
Part 4: Preface to the Second Edition
Part 5: Supplying Answers, Raising Questions
Part 6: 12 September 2013, Release Date

Today, I'd like to note the publication of a new Kindle edition, which can be purchased at amazon.com [online link here].

I want to mention that in preparing this note today, I had to make a change in Part 2 of the above series, because things have changed on the official website of the Ayn Rand Institute. When I was preparing Appendix III of the new second edition of my book, I accessed "this page" on 11 February 2013, wherein the Ayn Rand Institute characterized a forthcoming book as the "authorized biography of Ayn Rand by Shoshana Milgram" as "in preparation." This has now been changed [accessed today, 8 January 2014]: to "Biography of Ayn Rand by Shoshana Milgram (in preparation)." Note how the word "authorized" has been dropped in the online description. Airbrushing reality is not something new with the Institute. It doesn't change the facts. As I note in my book (page 466, note 2):

Impact, the newsletter of the Ayn Rand Institute (1994), announced in "A Look at the Future," in its April 1994 General News column, that Ayn Rand in Her Own Words: The Authorized Biography was "being prepared for publication in 1996." It was to be "edited by Richard E. Ralston (ARI Academic Affairs Officer and former book/newspaper publisher)." The text was to consist of "Ayn Rand's own story of her life compiled from various sources, including her journals, correspondence, and interviews[,] . . . supplemented by interviews with Leonard Peikoff, Mary Ann Sures, and others." The plan was abandoned, but the title was later used for a 2011 documentary on Rand's life (see my preface herein, 401 n.3).
More than a decade later, in June 2004, it was announced by Impact (Journo 2004a, 1) that Shoshana Milgram was "working on an in-depth biography of Ayn Rand," for which the author herself projected completion "at the latest by 2008" (in Journo 2004b, 4). ARI currently identifies the "authorized biography of Ayn Rand by Shoshana Milgram" as "in preparation." See http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_archives_projects , accessed 11 February 2013.

Whoops. Guess we're no longer "authorized." Oh, well.

Postscript: For those who doubt that there was an earlier manifestation of this page, in which Milgram's forthcoming biography was characterized as "authorized," we have the Internet Archive Wayback Machine: a 6 February 2013 snapshot, closest in proximity to my 11 February accessing of the page and the 5 September 2013 snapshot, the last time that the word "authorized" was seen on that ARI page. The change seems to have occurred somewhere between September 2013 and October 2013, since the dropping of "authorized" is apparent in the 5 October 2013 snapshot.

Remarkably, this is coincident with the exact publication date of the second expanded edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Cause? Effect? Reciprocal dialectical causation? You be the judge.

December 17, 2013

New Journal of Ayn Rand Studies December 2013 Issue Arrives!

The new year-end issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is published today and can be found on JSTOR for online subscribers. It will be arriving in hard copy in mailboxes across the globe over the next week or so. And it completes the first year of our collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press. And what a year it's been; Volume 13 has given us 250 pages of wonderfully provocative essays by regular JARS contributors and many new ones.

jars13_2cover.jpg


The new issue features the following line-up:

Articles

Probability, Objectivity, and Induction - Arnold Baise

The Gospel According to Ayn Rand: Anthem as an Atheistic Theodicy - Michael G. Simental

Egoism and/or Altruism - Merlin Jetton

Economics in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - Edward W. Younkins

Modern Physics versus Objectivism - Warren C. Gibson

Reviews

Beneath The DIM Hypothesis: The Logical Structure of Leonard Peikoff's Analysis of Cultural Evolution [a review of Leonard Peikoff's book, The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West are Going Out] - Roger E. Bissell

Examining The Fountainhead [a review of Robert Mayhew's edited collection, Essays on Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead"] - Fred Seddon

Discussion

Reply to Stephen Cox: Anarchism and the Problems of Rand and Paterson - Roderick T. Long

Rejoinder to Roderick T. Long: Anarchism and Its Own Problems - Stephen Cox

The Index to Volume 13 rounds out the issue.

Abstracts to the above essays can be found here; contributor biographies can be found here.

It has been a breakthrough year for this journal, and I just wanted to extend my deepest appreciation to all the contributors, supporters, and subscribers who made it possible. We look forward to a truly productive 2014 and wish all of our readers a happy and heathy holiday season. Happy reading to you!

December 16, 2013

Barbara Branden, Love and Friendship Eternal

How does one begin to communicate the pain of loss, especially when that loss is so deep, so personal. On 11 December 2013, I learned of the death of Barbara Branden. I've been stunted for a few days wondering what on earth I could possibly say on Notablog that would do justice to the Barbara I came to know and love, a Barbara who was generous in sharing her own scholarship and time, and who was among the most encouraging and supportive human beings I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

Barbara Branden was Ayn Rand's first biographer, in fact, the only biographer to have ever been authorized by Rand herself during Rand's lifetime to pen the essay that eventually became the title piece of the 1962 book by Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden: "Who is Ayn Rand?" Of course, later, Barbara authored the sprawling, controversial 1986 biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which until recently remained the only extant book-length biography of one of the twentieth-century's most provocative thinkers.

When the Nathaniel Branden Institute dissolved in 1968, I was 8 years old and consequently was much too young to have ever attended the many lectures produced and disseminated by NBI during its heyday. But I slowly collected and listened to many of those NBI courses, including Barbara's wonderful "Principles of Efficient Thinking." All of this was in preparation for my own book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, which contained an important biographical component, fueled by Barbara's discussion of Rand having attended a course on ancient philosophy at Petrograd University taught by the great Russian philosopher, N. O. Lossky. This fact was reported not only in Barbara's 1986 biography, but in the 1962 Rand-authorized title essay for "Who is Ayn Rand?" So much of the biographical information in that essay, and in Passion, was derived from countless hours of interviews with Rand that Barbara and Nathaniel conducted in the early 1960s. (Rand never repudiated any of the Branden works prior to their 1968 disassociation; she considered their work with her, including the biographical essay, "Who is Ayn Rand?", to be part of the Randian canon and emphasized this in the June 1968 issue of The Objectivist.)

Few non-Ayn Rand Institute-affiliated scholars have ever had access to these interviews. Given the restrictive policies of the Ayn Rand Archives, I suspect I will be long dead before those archives are truly thrown open to non-affiliated scholars (Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, provides an interesting insight into the inner workings of the archives; see a PDF of her essay here.) Whatever inaccuracies that may have crept into Barbara's biographical work, we remain immensely fortunate that she was able to use so much of that interview material for her 1986 biography due to an agreement with the Rand estate.

Given one of the theses I was developing for Russian Radical, the fairly innocuous claim that Rand was most likely influenced by her teachers, especially their penchant for developing and applying "the art of context-keeping" (aka "dialectics") in combating false alternatives, I was especially captivated by the passages about Rand's Petrograd University years discussed in Barbara's original 1962 "Who is Ayn Rand?" essay, and largely reproduced in her 1986 biography. I wrote to both Leonard Peikoff, heir to the Rand estate, and to Barbara Branden, in search of further insight into the Rand-Lossky relationship, given that Lossky was among the most dialectical philosophers of his generation.

Peikoff (correspondence dated 27 May 1992) assured me that the estate was compiling information on Rand’s life and that if anything relevant to the Lossky-Rand connection became apparent, he would so advise me. I remained skeptical, however, that anything would come of Peikoff's promise, given the fact that his Ayn Rand Institute had a penchant for noncooperation with those outside their insulated universe. Years later, after Russian Radical was published, and panned viciously by one the ARIan brotherhood (see John Ridpath's "review" here), ARI reported that it had discovered a transcript of Rand's college education. I contacted the Ayn Rand Archives and offered to analyze it with the assistance of a group of scholars who were extremely knowledgeable of the historical period in question. The Ayn Rand Archives refused to share the transcript with me, unless I signed a letter promising that I'd never write on the subject. In essence, I told them with their siege mentality to shove it (see the story here).

By contrast, Barbara was immediately generous in her desire to aid my book research. Our give and take by phone, letter, and email became ever more friendly. By the time I had sent her the first draft of my book, we had become friends. But this didn't stop her from marking up my manuscript from beginning to end, and sending an accompanying five-page letter with constructive criticism, making important suggestions about this or that point and taking me to task on this or that interpretation. As she wrote in that letter (dated 28 June 1993):

Your book is a wonderful achievement, and I hope you are very proud of it. Congratulations! As you know, I could not put the manuscript down. I lost a week of evenings into the mornings --- and I lost Sixty Minutes, David Brinkley, 20-20, Prime Time Live and Bernard Shaw, as well as a couple of friends whom I barked at when they phoned. (But lo and behold! - the world muddled through without me.)

Her letter ended with this statement:

I am delighted that you consider me a friend. I feel the same way. It's a pleasure to know you. I should be in New York sometime in the next millennium, so wear a rose in your teeth so I'll recognize you.

When we finally got together some time later, I met her at the airport ... with a rose in my teeth, as promised.

We laughed, and enjoyed ourselves immensely, taking in some of New York's treasures, and, especially, the delightful beauty of my borough of birth: Brooklyn, New York.

It would not be the last time that she'd visit me; when my life-long health problems had seemingly brought me to death's door, she flew out again just to come to my home and sit with me and my sister and my little dog Blondie, who, despite a reputation for barking up a storm against invaders (i.e., visitors), took to her like glue.

Barbara and I had our disagreements (e.g., over the Iraq war) and we certainly both enjoyed a plethora of personal flaws, but we remained dear friends to the end. [And I take special pride in being a co-editor with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, on the project that became Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, the first book in which both Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden appeared together... since their 1962 book Who is Ayn Rand?. -- ed.]

So it angered me to no end when I saw her being routinely pissed on while she was alive.

Being a film fan, I recall a scene from the 2012 Best Picture Oscar winner, "Argo." Lester Siegel, played hilariously by Alan Arkin, has some choice words for a critic [YouTube link]. It's the only appropriate response one can give to those who, now that Barbara is dead, would delight in pissing on her grave.

I choose to celebrate her life, and I will value her generosity, friendship, support, loyalty, and comfort until the day I die. Bless you, dear Barbara. Love and friendship eternal.

September 12, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: It Has Arrived

As I've been discussing in various entries on Notablog (see the introductory discussion that begins here), the date of publication for the new expanded second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical was shifted from 2 September 2013 to 12 September 2013, which means that today, this author has given birth to a twin (albeit 18 years after the first of the twins). Oh, it's not quite a twin (trace the differences here), but like all my books, it's always exciting to see one of my babies make it into the world, even if in reincarnated form.

I see that it is now to be found at Penn State Press, Amazon.com, and it is mentioned by Irfan Khawaja on the website of his exciting new project, which has resurrected a familiar name, while taking things into a provocative new direction: the Institute for Objectivist Studies.

I've not yet received the book, but it was to arrive at the warehouse today... which means, the bouncing baby book will reach me soon, and I'm looking forward to holding it in my arms.

September 02, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: 12 September 2013 Release Date

Last month, in these five blog posts, I announced the publication of the second expanded edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.

I didn't have the opportunity to thank Paul Hornschemeier, for designing a cover that is as fresh as the content to be found in the new edition; here is a snapshot of the front and back cover design:

The New Edition

The book's official release date is now 12 September 2013. I look forward to seeing the final product myself!

August 16, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: Supplying Answers, Raising Questions

This week's discussion of the forthcoming publication of the new, expanded second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical has provided me with an avalanche of enthusiastic feedback from many people. I hope to answer the email in time, but I just wanted to thank everyone for a show of support. (And a shout out especially to Danny at Penn State Press for his nice blog post on this week's Notablog festivities.)

Much more information on this book will be posted in the coming weeks and months. If you'd like to receive an email that will inform you of the publication of the paperback, its price and availability at Penn State Press, Amazon.com, Independent Bookstore, Powell's Books, etc., sign up here.

I would like to end this week-long series of introductory blog posts on the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical by addressing a question that has been asked by quite a few individuals in personal correspondence and discussion over the past week.

Many readers know that I spent an inordinate amount of time answering critics left and right, high, low, and sideways, almost every day, every week, for years, in the wake of the enormous controversy that was generated on questions both historical and methodological, by this book's 1995 first edition. And those discussions took place on various friendly and hostile online forums, Internet lists, and Usenet newsgroups, etc. Lord knows that the avenues for discussion have now multiplied exponentially with the expansion of social media, and it is almost impossible to keep count!

In addition to the almost daily engagement, I also replied to many formal and informal reviews, which were published online and in print. These are archived on my site (yes, the positive and the negative criticism can be found right there... by what right would I have to call this the "Dialectics and Liberty" site when dialectics itself originated in dialogue?!). The archives can be found here.

I also wrote a more extensive review essay, published in the 1997 issue of Reason Papers, which can be found here. That essay, entitled "Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical - A Work in Progress," sums up, and advances, much of the dialogue.

The subtitle also sums up something that is still applicable even to a second, expanded edition of this book: This is a "Work in Progress," and it will generate new questions that may require new answers. But we need to do a reality check: I can't and won't be able to do what I used to do, jumping from forum to forum and responding here and there to everyone left, right, center, high, low, and sideways. Occasionally, I will have something to say here at Notablog. But my time and energy are very different in 2013 at age 53, than they were in 1995, at age 35, when Russian Radical first appeared. And I've also got a lot of other "works in progress," that require my attention, including the enormously important work I'm doing with Penn State Press on The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

But there is a more important point to be made about "Works in Progress," a point that I have made several times in the second edition of the book, a million or so times online, and now, here again: As long as information is out there on Ayn Rand that has not yet been found or translated or interpreted or documented, there is work to be done by historians of many stripes. Some of this information is still to be found hidden deep in Russian archives long closed off to outside access. And some of this information also resides behind the walls of the Ayn Rand Archives. So I'd like to paraphrase the words of a President who stood before the walls that symbolized the closed environment that defined all that was Russian and Soviet: Tear Down Those Walls!

Yes, there is an enormous difference between the closed society of the former Soviet Union and the material that is rightly proprietary behind the walls of the Ayn Rand Archives, which has every right to set access policies. But archivists should not use these policies to stonewall those who may not share the views of the orthodoxy. Independent historians will never be able to assess the accuracy of what is coming forth, especially in published, edited form from those whose orthodox allegiance is not in question. Those of independent stripe need to see the original materials, unedited, unaltered, untouched by the visible hands of ambitious editors. I raised these questions first in 1998 in Liberty magazine, but my suspicions were confirmed by Jennifer Burns in her 2009 book, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. Burns writes:

Unfortunately, there are grave limitations to the accuracy and reliability of the putatively primary source material issued by Rand's estate. Discrepancies between Rand's published journals and archival material were first publicized by Rand scholar Chris Sciabarra, who noticed differences between the Journals of Ayn Rand (1999) and brief excerpts published earlier in The Intellectual Activist. After several years of working in Rand's personal papers I can confirm Sciabarra's discovery: the published versions of Rand's letters and diaries have been significantly edited in ways that drastically reduce their utility as historical sources. (Goddess of the Market, 291)

The Ayn Rand Archives deserves credit for having given Jennifer Burns access to its collections, but the multitude of legitimate scholars who have been kept out of its hallowed halls is utterly shameful.

Something here needs to be emphasized about the art of historical investigation and interpretation: The material in the Archives are calling out for the kind of detective work and interpretive work that cannot be done by those who are of an almost single orthodox mind-set. Facts are facts, but two people looking at the same material can come away from it with enormously different interpretations, because each scholar operates from a highly individualized context, with vastly different skill sets, and that means that many scholars looking at the same things can help to shed light where previously there was darkness.

It is my hope that the second, expanded edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical will provide additional light on the historical evolution and analytical importance of Rand's unique contribution to twentieth-century radical social thought. Even if it didn't benefit from any access to any source material from the Ayn Rand Archives.

I'm glad to have had the opportunity to have published this five-part introduction to the forthcoming second edition. But there's lots more work to be done. Stay tuned.

August 15, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: Preface to the Second Edition

Recently published on the Pennsylvania State University Press site is a sample chapter from the new 2013 second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. Today, I publish that excerpt here, on Notablog.

Preface to the Second Edition (2013)

Nearly twenty years ago, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical was published. In its wake came much controversy and discussion, which greatly influenced the course of my research in subsequent years. In 1999, I co-edited, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, part of the Pennsylvania State University Press series on Re-Reading the Canon, which now includes nearly three-dozen volumes, each devoted to a major thinker in the Western philosophic tradition, from Plato and Aristotle to Foucault and Arendt. In that same year, I became a founding co-editor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, a biannual interdisciplinary scholarly journal on Ayn Rand and her times that, in its first twelve volumes, published over 250 articles by over 130 authors. In 2013, the journal began a new collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University Press that will greatly expand its academic visibility and electronic accessibility.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to see that two essays first published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies---"The Rand Transcript" and "The Rand Transcript, Revisited"---have made their way into the pages of the second, expanded edition of this book, providing a more complete record of the fascinating historical details of Rand's education from 1921 to 1924 at what was then Petrograd State University.

In publishing the second edition of any book written two decades ago, an author might be tempted to change this or that formulation or phrase to render more accurately its meaning or to eliminate the occasional error of fact. I have kept such revisions to a minimum; the only extensively revised section is an expanded discussion in chapter 12 of Rand's foreign policy views, relevant to a post-9/11 generation, under the subheading "The Welfare-Warfare State." Nevertheless, part of the charm of seeing a second edition of this book published now is being able to leave the original work largely untouched and to place it in a broader, clarifying context that itself could not have been apparent when it was first published.

My own Rand research activities over these years are merely one small part of an explosive increase in Rand sightings across the social landscape: in books on biography, literature, philosophy, politics, and culture; film; and contemporary American politics, from the Tea Party to the presidential election.

Even President Barack Obama, in his November 2012 Rolling Stone interview, acknowledges having read Ayn Rand:

Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity---that thats a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America.

The bulk of this book predates the president's assessment, and yet it is, in significant ways, a response to assessments of that kind. First and foremost, it is a statement of the inherent radicalism of Rand's approach. Her radicalism speaks not to the alleged "narrow vision" but to the broad totality of social relationships that must be transformed as a means of resolving a host of social problems. Rand saw each of these social problems as related to others, constituting---and being constituted by---an overarching system of statism that she opposed. My work takes its cue from Rand, and other thinkers in both the libertarian tradition, such as Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Murray N. Rothbard, and the dialectical tradition, such as Aristotle, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Bertell Ollman. From these disparate influences, I have constructed the framework for a "dialectical libertarianism" as the only fundamental alternative to that overarching system of statism. In this book, I identify Rand as a key theorist in the evolution of a "dialectical libertarian" political project.

The essence of a dialectical method is that it is "the art of context-keeping." More specifically, it emphasizes the need to understand any object of study or any social problem by grasping the larger context within which it is embedded, so as to trace its myriad---and often reciprocal---causes and effects. The larger context must be viewed in terms that are both systemic and historical. Systemically, dialectics demands that we trace the relationships among seemingly disparate objects of study or among disparate social problems so as to understand how these objects and problems relate to one another---and to the larger system they constitute and that shapes them. Historically, dialectics demands that we trace the development of these relationships over time---that is, that we understand each object of study or each social problem through its past, present, and potential future manifestations.

This attention to context is the central reason why a dialectical approach has often been connected to a radical politics. To be radical is to "go to the root." Going to the "root" of a social problem requires understanding how it came about. Tracing how problems are situated within a larger system over time is, simultaneously, a step toward resolving those problems and overturning and revolutionizing the system that generates them.

The three books in my "Dialectics and Liberty trilogy"---of which Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical is the second part---seek to reclaim dialectical method from its one-sided use in Marxist thought, in particular, by clarifying its basic nature and placing it in the service of a radical libertarianism.

The first book in my trilogy is Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, which I published in 1995 with the State University of New York Press. It drew parallels between Karl Marx, the theoretician of communism, and F. A. Hayek, the Austrian "free market" economist, by highlighting their surprisingly convergent critiques of utopianism and their mutual appreciation of context in defining the meaning of political radicalism.

Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, the second book in the trilogy, details the approach of a bona fide dialectical thinker in the radical libertarian tradition, who advocated the analysis of social problems and social solutions across three distinctive, and mutually supportive, levels of generality---the personal, the cultural, and the structural (see especially "The Radical Rand," part 3 of the current work).

The third book and final part of the trilogy, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism, was published in 2000 by the Pennsylvania State University Press. It offers a rereading of the history of dialectical thinking, a redefinition of dialectics as indispensable to any defense of human liberty and as a tool to critique those aspects of modern libertarianism that are decidedly undialectical and, hence, dangerously utopian in their implications.

That my trilogy places libertarian thinkers within a larger dialectical tradition has been resisted by some of my left-wing colleagues, who view Marxism as having a monopoly on dialectical analysis, and some of my right-wing colleagues, who are aghast to see anybody connect a libertarian politics to a method that they decry as "Marxist," and hence anathema to the project for liberty. Ironically, both the left-wing and right-wing folks who object to my characterization of a dialectical libertarian alternative commit what Rand would have called "the fallacy of the frozen abstraction." For Rand, this consists of substituting some one particular concrete for the wider abstract class to which it belongs. Thus, the left-wing and right-wing critics both freeze and reduce the concept of dialectical method to the subcategory of one of its major historical applications (i.e., Marxism). They both exclude another significant subcategory from that concept, whether to protect the favored subcategory (as do some conservatives, libertarians, and Objectivists) or the concept itself (as do the leftists). Ultimately, they both characterize dialectics as essentially Marxist. It is as if any other variety of dialectics does not or cannot exist. In each case, the coupling of dialectics and libertarianism is denied. The left-wing dialecticians don't want to besmirch "their" methodology by acknowledging its presence in libertarian thinking, while the right-wing proponents of liberty don't want to sully their ideology with a "Marxist" methodology.

But as I have demonstrated in my trilogy, especially in Total Freedom, it is Aristotle, not Hegel or Marx, who is the "fountainhead" of a genuinely dialectical approach to social inquiry. Ultimately, my work bolsters Rand's self-image as an essentially Aristotelian and radical thinker. In doing so, my work challenges our notion of what it means to be Aristotelian and radical.

I am cognizant that my use of the word "dialectics" to describe the "art of context-keeping" as a vital aspect of Rand's approach to both analyzing problems and proposing highly original, often startling solutions, is controversial. My hypothesis---in this book and in the two additional essays that now apear as appendices I and II of this expanded second edition---that Rand learned this method from her Russian teachers has generated as much controversy. Rand named N. O. Lossky as her first philosophy professor. Questions of the potential methodological impact on Rand that Lossky and her other Russian teachers may have had, and the potential discrepancies between Rand's own recollections with regard to Lossky and the historical record, were all first raised in Russian Radical. These issues, nearly twenty years after they were raised, have resulted in Rand's prospective "authorized" biographer arguing that Rand's recollections were mistaken. In my view, however, this turn in historical interpretation is itself deeply problematic. I discuss these issues in a new essay, which appears as appendix III, "A Challenge to Russian Radical---and Ayn Rand."

I am genuinely excited that the Pennsylvania State University Press has enabled me to practice what I dialectically preach: placing Russian Radical and its cousins in the larger context both of my research on Rand and of my Dialectics and Liberty trilogy enables me to present readers with a clearer sense of what I have hoped to accomplish. Thanks to all those who have made this ongoing adventure possible.

Chris Matthew Sciabarra
1 July 2013

[Notes and in-text citations have been eliminated from the above excerpt; they can be found in the new expanded second edition of this book.]

August 14, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: 1995 vs. 2013: What's Different?

The 2013 second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical offers a vastly expanded content over its 1995 predecessor. I have written a "Preface to the Second Edition," which I will publish here tomorrow. And whereas the first edition closed with the Epilogue, the second edition adds three new appendices, expanded notes and references, and an expanded index as well.

Readers will recall that I did not have access to Rand's college transcript when I published Russian Radical and that I had to piece together a portrait of a very turbulent time in the history of what was then Petrograd State University (and later became Leningrad University, and then, returned to its original name: the University of St. Petersburg). Nevertheless, I stated explicitly that the evidence I had collected and the conclusions I reached included a dose of reasonable speculation and a nod to "best explanation."

But I knew more evidence existed out there, and I was relentless in my quest to locate Rand's actual college transcripts. Some of this quest involved dealings with the Ayn Rand Institute discussed here. Not to be deterred by what I believed were unreasonable demands made by ARI, I was able to network globally with a remarkably cooperative and generous group of scholars and archivists, who eventually led me to the first college transcript. My analysis of its contents appeared in the first issue (Fall 1999) of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The article was entitled "The Rand Transcript". As the abstract to the article states:

This essay discusses the major historical significance of the discovery and investigation of Ayn Rand's transcript from the University of St. Petersburg. The document provides evidence of Rand's study with some of the finest Russian scholars of the period, and helps to resolve certain paradoxes concerning Rand's relationship to the philosopher, N. O. Lossky. It also contributes to our understanding of those methods and ideas that may have influenced Rand's intellectual development.

But further investigation was required; more information and more detailed transcripts existed. Researching her biography of Ayn Rand (which was later published in 2009 as Ayn Rand and the World She Made), Anne C. Heller, working with Blitz Information Services, offered to share all of the information she recovered on Rand's education in the Soviet Union. My work on those materials subsequently helped her to piece together a more complete documentation for her Rand biography. It was truly a refreshing moment in scholarly cooperation.

It was not until the Fall of 2005 that I was able to publish my findings of the most detailed transcript analysis to date. As indicated in the abstract to that essay, "The Rand Transcript, Revisited":

In an examination of recently recovered materials from Russian archival sources, Sciabarra expands on his earlier studies of Rand's secondary and university education in Silver Age Russia (see the Fall 1999 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies essay, "The Rand Transcript"). He uncovers new details that are consistent with his historical theses, first presented in the 1995 book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. He reexamines the case for a connection between Rand and N. O. Lossky, and proposes a possible parallel between Lossky and a character Rand called "Professor Leskov" in an early draft of the novel, We the Living.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce that "The Rand Transcript" and "The Rand Transcript, Revisited" are now Appendices I and II, respectively, in the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. This is where this research belonged; they complete the historical investigations of part one of the book in ways that could not have possibly been anticipated in 1995, when the book was first published.

Up to 2012, no scholar anywhere had fully taken on the task of criticizing the actual historical case that I made in the first edition of Russian Radical or in the subsequent essays in JARS. Then, in 2012, ARI-affiliated scholar Shoshana Milgram wrote an essay entitled "The Education of Kira Argounova and Leo Kovalensky," which now constitutes a new Chapter Four of the expanded second edition of Robert Mayhew’s edited collection, Essays on Ayn Rand’s "We the Living". For the first time, some aspects of my historical detective work are found "problematic" by a writer who is actually the newly 'designated' "authorized" biographer of Ayn Rand.

Appendix III, entitled "A Challenge to Russian Radical---and Ayn Rand," written especially for the second edition of Russian Radical is my reply to her criticisms. I won't spoil the reading experience, but I'll just say that Milgram essentially dismisses my contention of any connection between Rand and Lossky, by dismissing Rand's recollections of Lossky... recollections, mind you, that were communicated to Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden in biographical interviews in the early 1960s, and that were published in Barbara Branden's biographical essay (and the title of the 1962 book): "Who is Ayn Rand?" That essay was the only published biographical essay in Ayn Rand's lifetime and had her full sanction even after her 1968 break with the Brandens.

My response to Milgram, therefore, is not merely a defense of my historical thesis, but a defense of the integrity of Rand's memory of a traumatic period in her life.

The three appendices are not the only additional materials in the second edition. I was able to update some of the scholarship, do a few nips and tucks, and provide a whole new sub-section for Chapter 12 ("The Predatory State"), which expanded considerably on material already present in the first edition. That new subsection is called "The Welfare-Warfare State," and it reveals things about Rand's views of U.S. foreign policy that might astound both her conservative and liberal critics.

A full "Table of Contents" comparison of the two editions can be found here. Readers will be able to trace even the page differences between the first and second editions at that link.

August 13, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: The Cover Story

Yesterday, it was about The Cover. Today, it's The Cover Story.

It was around the second or third week of August 1995, that both Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical made their first appearance, providing the illusion that this author would be the kind of prolific writer who would be publishing two books a week for the rest of his career. (Okay, okay, I didn't do too badly... but still!)

From the very beginning, however, these two books were conceived as part of a trilogy, which would seek to reclaim dialectics ("the art of context-keeping") in the service of a radical libertarian politics. The scheme of that trilogy came about in the planning stages of my doctoral dissertation in political philosophy, theory, and methodology at New York University, where I earned my Ph.D. under the direction of Marxist scholar, Bertell Ollman. There have been few scholars on the left or the right who encouraged me in my work on libertarianism as much as this dear friend and colleague. "Toward a Radical Critique of Utopianism: Dialectics and Dualism in the Works of Friedrich Hayek and Karl Marx" was completed and successfully defended with distinction in 1988. Two parts of that dissertation---those focusing on Marx and Hayek---became the basis of Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, which was readied and planned for publication in 1989-90 by Philosophia Verlag, a West German publishing house that met its extinction around the time that West Germany itself integrated with the East to become, simply, Germany. (One of the parts of the dissertation, which focused on the work of the great Murray Rothbard, was revised and expanded considerably, and was later incorporated as part of the culminating book of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy": Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.)

With the Marx-Hayek book put on hold temporarily, I decided to begin work on what was to become the second part of the trilogy. And so began the massive (and that's an understatement) historical and methodological research project that eventually became Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. The book had been rejected by many university presses, which dismissed Rand as a figure not worthy of "scholarly" attention, and by many trade presses, which dismissed a book about a "pop" novelist and "philosopher" as being too scholarly. It eventually found a home with Pennsylvania State University Press. Under the brilliant, caring guidance of its director Sanford ("Sandy") Thatcher, the book was eventually published and began the process of dragging academia and Rand's "non-academic" Objectivist philosophy "kicking and screaming" into engagement with one another.

After a truly successful run of seven paperback printings, the book became one of the all-time Penn State Press sales champs.

Then, in 2012, the new director of Penn State Press, Patrick Alexander, had an inspired idea to re-release the book in an expanded second edition. More on that below.

In the meanwhile, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia finally found its own home at an American university press (the State University of New York Press) as part of their series on the "Philosophy of the Social Sciences" (and it is now available as an e-book; the first chapter is on the SUNY site as a sample PDF here). The book was published officially on 31 August 1995. And though the official date of publication for Russian Radical is listed as 19 June 1995, take it from me: both books finally made their way from their respective warehouses to my house in the same week of August 1995.

It was an odd coincidence, indeed, to have two books come out simultaneously; indeed, the second book in the trilogy (Russian Radical) actually made it to my home a few days earlier than Marx-Hayek! But it only made the intensive research and writing of the trilogy's finale, Total Freedom (published officially on 2 November 2000), all the more intellectually urgent for me. I knew that the first two books would generate even more questions than could possibly be answered in either of them, and that it required a re-reading of the history of dialectics and a re-definition of it that would make sense in the context of the radical libertarian political project to which I'd been aligned.

In the nearly two decades since the publication of the first two books of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy," other projects, of course, took up enormous chunks of my time and intellectual energy. In 1999, I co-edited with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand and became a founding co-editor of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I wrote a couple of monographs, scores of articles for books, journals, magazines, and encyclopedias, and was deeply involved in online discussion forums for a long time, until I decided that there were only so many hours in a day, and opted to focus exclusively on my own work done my own way. That included the development of my own blog (Notablog) and an even greater focus on expanding the breadth, depth, and quality of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS).

And so, when I was approached last year by Penn State Press director, Patrick Alexander, to begin a collaborative publishing project with the press, I jumped at the chance. After all, it would allow the editors of JARS to focus 100% of our energy on editorial functions and would give the press control over the business aspects of the journal (design, page proof preparation, additional copyediting, printing, subscription fulfillment, and mailing), which were absorbing endless hours of my time.

The first Penn State Press issue of the journal, Volume 13, Number 1 (July 2013) was just published (its actually fulfilled in an arrangement with Johns Hopkins University Press), and our year-end edition, scheduled for December 2013, will include nearly double the number of articles as the current one. I would say that we are now receiving a record level of submissions.

But Patrick had other ideas too; he thought it was about time to publish a second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. I had done intensive research into Rand's education after my 1995 book was published, and two articles documenting that work were actually published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ("The Rand Transcript," Fall 1999; "The Rand Transcript, Revisited" Fall 2005). I agreed with Patrick; I was (and remain) convinced that the new evidence that I'd investigated and published in support of my overall historical thesis---that Rand learned from, and was heavily exposed to the dialectical methods central to the cultural milieu of a particular place (Russia) and time (pre-and-post revolutionary)---needed to appear in a second edition, where it would get the kind of exposure it deserved.

So our plan was to include these two articles, plus a new "Preface to the Second Edition," which would enable me to situate the work in the larger universe of expanding Rand studies, and in the particular context of my own dialectical-libertarian project. Soon enough, however, we'd added a third appendix, enabling me to reply to a recent critic of my historical research into Rand's education (Shoshana Milgram, Rand's newest "authorized" biographer). [Note: When I accessed that page on 11 February 2013, the Ayn Rand Institute mentioned the "authorized biography of Ayn Rand by Shoshana Milgram" as "in preparation"; that has now been changed (accessed 8 January 2014): to "Biography of Ayn Rand by Shoshana Milgram (in preparation)." Note how the word "authorized" has now been dropped in the online description. See my post here, which discusses the change made to the site, and questions its timing.] Moreover, I was given the opportunity to tweak the book from cover to cover, updating some of the scholarship, and, along the way, adding a much-expanded section of Chapter 12 ("The Predatory State") dealing with Rand's radical critique of the welfare-warfare state, so relevant to a post-9/11 generation. The book was re-designed and re-keyed, the index was expanded, and before too long, an e-book will be in the offing [it is now available in a Kindle edition on amazon.com].

Tomorrow, in my next blog post on Russian Radical 2.0, I'll be discussing some of the specific differences between the first and second editions.

August 12, 2013

Russian Radical 2.0: The Cover

In daily posts over the course of the next five days, I am marking the publication of the second edition of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, offically scheduled for release on "Atlas Shrugged Day", 2 September 2013 . . . though, in this home, we have always known that date to be far more significant: it's my sister's birthday! And she's slightly older than Atlas. Nevertheless, more likely than not, the book will be circulating by the end of September or early October.

Published nearly two decades ago, the first edition of Russian Radical is actually celebrating its 18th anniversary this month. Also reaching its 18th birthday is my first book: Marx, Hayek, and Utopia. Tomorrow, in Part II of this series, I will present "The Cover Story" on the origins of the second edition of Russian Radical. wherein I'll have lots to say about both books.

Today, it's just The Cover. Quite literally. The clearest and boldest symbol of difference between the first and second editions of Russian Radical is illustrated by the cover. The classic 1995 first edition cover design by Steve Kress provided images of Ayn Rand, philosophy Professor N. O. Lossky, and the Peter and Paul Fortress, where, in 1924, the young Ayn Rand (nee Alissa Rosenbaum) lectured on the fortress's history.

Ayn_Rand_The_Russian_Radical 1.0

The second edition's cover design is, if you'll pardon the expression, quite a radical departure from the first edition. Those familiar with Ayn Rand will recall that her original working title for the book that was to become her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, was: "The Strike." Considering how strikes were customarily tools of organized labor, Rand was engaging in a kind of linguistic subversion that was characteristic of one of her earliest philosophic influences, Friedrich Nietzsche. Rand would often use words that had negative connotations, and totally invert their meaning. Hence, for Rand, there was a "virtue" of selfishness and "capitalism" was not a system of class exploitation, but an "unknown ideal." Well, in this instance, her working title for Atlas Shrugged was her way of using the word, "Strike" in a typically ironic fashion. For Rand (spoiler alert), Atlas Shrugged explores what happens when "the men of the mind" go on strike, when men and women of distinction, across all disciplines and specialities, across the worlds of business and art, no longer wish to sanction their own victimhood. The new cover uses the strike imagery in the color scheme of the country to which Rand emigrated in 1926 (the red, white, and blue of the U.S. flag), while also using banners with touches of red and yellow (let us not forget that it was the yellow of the "hammer and sickle" that was starkly imposed on the solid red background of the communist Soviet flag). Here's the new cover, folks!

ARTRRMEDIUM978-0-271-06227-3md.jpg

July 12, 2013

The New JARS Debuts on JSTOR

As I announced recently right here on Notablog, the new, and newly designed, Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, makes its online debut today on the JSTOR site, which, for all online subscribers to the journal has the added bonus of offering you every back issue fully archived. The new July 2013 print issue is in the mail and on its way to subscribers (you can order, or renew, a subscription, here).

This is the first issue published by the Pennsylvania State University Press (PSUP), and it is, if you don't mind me saying: Gorgeous. My deepest thanks to the press for doing it right: it is an utter and complete delight to have the editorial board give its undivided attention to all matters of content, and to have a publisher take care of all those wonderfully exciting tasks, like design, production, printing, subscription management, packaging, and mailing.

And we are already at work on the next issue, due out in December, which will begin production in August, and get to subscribers on time. That issue will have nearly twice as many articles as the current one, and promises to be another absorbing entry in the 13 volumes we've published since our 1999 premiere (thanks to hard-working editors, advisors, and those peer readers who participate in our double-blind peer review process).

The Journal has weathered many storms: moving from Port Townsend to Reno to Brooklyn, but through it all, we have worked diligently to get it indexed in whole, or in part, by more than two dozen abstracting services. Our new relationship with PSUP is going to vastly expand our visibility in the scholarly community, but, more importantly, it will exponentially expand our electronic accessibility for the benefit of all those seeking to do much-needed research in Rand studies. I am proud of the work performed by all those associated with this collaboration; this is team work at its best. But most of all, I am proud of the sweetest loyalty that our subscribers have shown since our first issue in 1999. This is the beginning of a new era; we are getting more submissions than ever, and reaching audiences far beyond our expectations.

Now, do yourselves one great favor: get the new issue, Volume 13, Number 1, our 25th published issue, and give yourself a chance to be excited, or infuriated, by one thought-provoking essay after another (check out the abstracts for the new issue, and the contributor biographies too). And if you're so inspired by the promise of this new collaborative adventure, write to us: We have authors who will be more than happy to respond in print in upcoming Discussion forums.

Most of all: Enjoy!

June 10, 2013

JARS: A New Era Begins

As advertised here, here, and here, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies begins a new era this year: a collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press, which will manage all aspects of design, production, distribution, and subscription fulfillment, while leaving the Editorial Board in full charge of the intellectual side of this grand adventure. As I state in the "Editor's Introduction: Change and Continuity," which appears in the new July 2013 issue: "In embarking on this new arrangement, the journal unveils a new look, but retains its commitment to introducing new writers to the ever-expanding world of Rand studies." And what a new look it is!

The New JARS!

The new issue, officially Volume 13, Number 1 (Issue #25, July 2013), features all-new essays, by both former contributers and new ones:

Editor's Introduction: Change and Continuity - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Rand, Paterson, and the Problem of Anarchism - Stephen Cox

Little Prime Movers: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as Young Adult Literature - Will Stockton

Reviews

An End to Over and Against: A Review Essay on two recent Rand biographies: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, by Jennifer Burns; and Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne C. Heller. Review by Robert L. Campbell

Discussion

Reply to Roger E. Bissell: Perplexing Logic - Dennis C. Hardin

Rejoinder to Dennis C. Hardin: A Guide for the Perplexed - Roger E. Bissell

Readers can access abstracts for the above essays here, and contributor biographies here.

And let me remind readers that Pennsylvania State University Press now offers print-only, online-only, and print-and-online subscriptions; online subscribers will have access to fully searchable essays, along with essays from every back issue published by JARS since its 1999 inception (back issues are already indexed for viewing on JSTOR, and we are now an affiliated journal of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals).

To order or renew subscriptions, fill out the form for mail-in or follow the links for online processing here.

Our year-end issue, due out in December 2013, promises to be even more exciting; it will be significantly larger than our July 2013 PSUP debut, with many provocative essays. Stay tuned! And enjoy...

Also mentioned at the Liberty & Power Group Blog.

May 17, 2013

Rand in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism

In 2012, Gale, Cengage Learning published Volume 261 of the series, Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism.

TCLC Volume 261 Cover

Each volume publishes reprints of material that qualifies as "criticism of the works of novelists, poets, playwrights, who lived between 1900 and 1999, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations."

TCLC Volume 261Title Page.jpg

The newest volume includes three sections, each devoted to another writer: C. Day Lewis, 1904-1972; Jaroslav Hasek, 1883-1923; and Ayn Rand, 1905-1982, the "Russian-born American novelist, essayist, philosopher, and *playwright."

TCLC Volume 261 Contents Page

Many writers in Rand studies are featured in this section of Volume 261; the editors chose to reprint Chapter 8 of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.

TCLC Volume 261 Sciabarra Sample.jpg

In the meanwhile, I've been working hard on new materials to be included in the 2013 expanded second edition of Russian Radical. Details on this edition to follow soon...

March 14, 2013

Left-Libertarian Musings

I have been remiss in not mentioning that references to, and republications of, my work have been featured on the website of Center for a Stateless Society. From the mission statement of the Center:

The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) is an anarchist think-tank and media center. Its mission is to explain and defend the idea of vibrant social cooperation without aggression, oppression, or centralized authority. In particular, it seeks to enlarge public understanding and transform public perceptions of anarchism, while reshaping academic and movement debate, through the production and distribution of market anarchist media content, both scholarly and popular, the organization of events, and the development of networks and communities, and to serve, along with the Alliance of the Libertarian Left and the Molinari Institute, as an institutional home for left-libertarian market anarchists.

One does not have to be a bona fide member of the Center, or an anarchist per se, to appreciate the fact that these folks are attempting to forge the way for a form of dialectical libertarianism, insofar as they refuse to focus strictly on the political, to the exclusion of the personal and the cultural, the social-psychological, the linguistic, the philosophical, and so forth. One of the reasons I've been critical of some forms of libertarianism is that there are what I have called "dualistic" tendencies among some libertarians to sharply separate the political from the personal and the cultural, as if dispensing with the state is all that is necessary to achieve a noncoercive society. As I have argued in my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy," the political is as dependent on the personal and the cultural as each of these levels is dependent on the others. It is the classic case of reciprocal interdependence:

Tri-Level Model of Power Relations in Society

My "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" consists of three books that proclaim the virtues of dialectical thinking in the service of a radical libertarianism. The essence of a dialectical method is that it is "the art of context-keeping." It demands that we study social problems by grasping the larger context within which they are embedded, so as to trace their myriad—and often reciprocal—causes and effects. The larger context must be viewed in terms that are both systemic and historical. By systemic, I mean that social problems need to be understood in ways that make transparent their relationships to one another—and to the larger system they constitute and that shapes them. By historical, I mean that social problems need to be grasped developmentally, that is, in ways that clarify their development over time. Grasping the larger context is indispensable to any "radical" politics worth its title. To be radical is to "go to the root." Going to the "root" of social problems requires understanding how they came about, where they might be tending, and how they may be resolved—by overturning and revolutionizing the system that generates them.

The three books of the trilogy are: Marx, Hayek, and Utopia; Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical; and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.

The first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, published in 1995 with the State University of New York Press, draws parallels between Karl Marx and F. A. Hayek with regard to their surprisingly convergent critiques of utopianism. Both thinkers exhibit an appreciation of context in distinguishing between dialectical, radical thinking and nondialectical, utopian thinking.

The second book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, published in 1995 with Pennsylvania State University Press (and soon to be published in an expanded second edition) details Rand's approach as an instance of highly dialectical and radical thinking, which recognizes that social problems and social solutions must be understood systemically, across three distinctive, and mutually supportive, levels of generality—the personal, the cultural, and the structural, and dynamically or developmentally, inclusive of past, present, and potential future manifestations of the problems we are analyzing and attempting to resolve.

The third book, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism, published in 2000 by Pennsylvania State University Press, offers a re-reading of the history of dialectical thinking, and a re-definition of dialectics as indispensable to any defense of human liberty. It includes a critical discussion of the work of Murray N. Rothbard, who was one of my most important influences.

One can never be sure of every last implication of one's work when one creates it. That's the nature of what is often called an enterprise of "hermeneutics", which is a fancy term to designate the art, nature, and evolution of interpretation. As different people relate their own unique contexts of knowledge to one's work, they are more than likely to find implications in the work of which not even the author may have been aware. It therefore gives me great pleasure to see that those on the "libertarian left" are drawing from some useful aspects of my work.

Here are some of the references to, and republications of, my work at the Center for a Stateless Society:

On the Shoulders of Giants by Kevin Carson

They Saw it Coming: The 19th-Century Libertarian Critique of Fascism (translated into Spanish as Lo Vieron Venir: La Crítica Libertaria Decimonónica del Fascismo) by Roderick Long

Engagement with the Left on Free Markets by Kevin Carson

"Capitalism": The Known Reality by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (posted by James Tuttle)

A Crisis of Political Economy by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (posted by James Tuttle)

Dialectics and Liberty by Chris Matthew Sciabarra (posted by James Tuttle)

Support C4SS with Charles Johnson's "Liberty, Equality, Solidarity" by James Tuttle

March 08, 2013

JARS: Past, Present, and Future

I recently announced the publication of Volume 12, Number 2 (Issue 24, December 2012) of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The abstracts and contributor biographies for the current issue can be found at those links. Subscribers and contributors should have already received their copies in the mail.

We have had a very small working staff as an independently published journal. Over the last few years especially, following the journal's move of its central headquarters from Washington to Nevada to good ol' Brooklyn, New York, much of the management tasks have fallen on a staff of one. Fortunately, Volume 12, Number 2 is the last issue that this staff will manage.

On the editorial side, of course, we've had a hard-working team, with a stellar cast of peer readers, and indefatigable Editorial and Advisory Board members.

Since the nuts-and-bolts stuff, that is, subscription fulfillment, design, production, distribution, and mailing, is being managed, starting with our first 2013 issue, by Pennsylvania State University Press, I am One Happy Camper. The first 2013 issue is already in process!

Editors and Advisory Board members will continue to do what matters, intellectually: guiding this publication’s content into an exciting future, with an even greater focus on the quality that our readers have come to expect. But the PSUP collaboration guarantees an even larger readership and an extensive dissemination of our content all across the globe. Part of this is already being generated by JSTOR, which has digitally preserved our back (and future) issues for the benefit of subscribers and scholars the world over. I have visited the JSTOR site, and am happy to report that every page of every back issue is now available; soon enough all of our content will also be dark archived by Stanford University’s CLOCKSS for eternal preservation.

Moreover, beginning with their receipt of Volume 13, Number 1 (scheduled for publication by PSUP in July 2013), current JARS subscribers will have full access to the journal’s content—and all of its back issues. New subscribers will have the option of print-only, online-only, or print-and-online access; our new subscription rates can be found here. The increases are modest, considering that our domestic rates have been the same since the journal’s first issue in the Fall of 1999. Let me encourage new subscribers and all of those who are considering re-subscribing (when their subscriptions are due for renewal) to take advantage of both print and online access. You won’t be disappointed.

As readers know, JARS has suffered profoundly personal losses with the passing of the journal’s visionary founder, Bill Bradford, and two of our original, and best, Advisory Board members, Larry Sechrest and John Hospers. With our December 2012 issue, I announced that JARS expanded its current Board of Advisors with an eye toward bolstering its interdisciplinary and international reach. Our new Advisory Board members fill that criteria resoundingly.

Volume 12, Number 2

In "Expanding Boards, Expanding Horizons," my Preface to the December 2012 issue, I re-acquaint readers with our Advisory Board members and introduce readers to the half-dozen new members, who are sure to contribute to the long-term success of this publication. First, I review our current Editorial Board, "now constituted by four hard-working scholars drawn from the humanities and social sciences," and provide a brief update on the work of my colleagues:

The newest addition is the elevation of our former Associate Editor and former Advisory Board member, Robert L. Campbell, to the Editorial Board proper. This merely formalizes a relationship that has existed for a long time; Campbell has been with JARS since its inception and has worked tirelessly in an editorial capacity, helping to maintain the quality of this journal. He is a Professor of Psychology at Clemson University. His writing in theoretical, developmental, and cognitive psychology has been published in journals as diverse as Human Development, The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Cognitive Development, and The Journal of Pragmatics, to name but a few. Since 2005, he has edited the journal New Ideas in Psychology. When he’s not writing essays on Rand for our journal, he’s busy producing books such as The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (1994; second edition, 2000), and writing on jazz and blues for such periodicals as Cadence and Blues and Rhythm.
Stephen Cox, a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego, has been a founding co-editor of JARS, and an indefatigable scholar and editor. His articles and monographs on Rand explore the underappreciated literary aspects of her work. He is also the author of the book on Isabel Paterson [The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America (2004)], an important American writer who influenced Rand’s intellectual evolution. Cox’s broad research interests are reflected in his other published work: on eighteenth-century British literature (“The Stranger Within Thee”: Concepts of the Self in Late-Eighteenth-Century Literature [1980]); William Blake (Love and Logic: The Evolution of Blake’s Thought [1992]); and the Titanic tragedy (The Titanic Story: Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions [1999]). [And I should add his 2009 publication, a book published by Yale University Press: The Big House: Image and Reality of the American Prison.
Philosopher Roderick T. Long joined our Editorial Board after Bradford’s passing, with the publication of Volume 8, Number 1 (Fall 2006). A Professor of Philosophy at Auburn University, Long is also a senior scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Director and President of the Molinari Institute, an advisory panel member for the Center for a Stateless Society, and has served as editor of The Journal of Libertarian Studies. He has published countless essays on Ayn Rand, and is the author of Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand (2000). In 2008, he published Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country? (co-edited with Tibor R. Machan). His book, Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Action: Praxeological Investigations, is forthcoming.
Rounding out the Editorial Board is yours truly, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, a founding co-editor of this journal, author of numerous articles that have appeared in various encyclopedias and other periodicals, and of the “Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy,” consisting of Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (1995), Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (1995; forthcoming expanded second edition, 2013), and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism (2000), and co-editor, with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (1999).

Soon enough, I will be posting information on the expanded second edition of my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, which will include my 1999 JARS essay, “The Rand Transcript,” my 2005 JARS essay, “The Rand Transcript, Revisited,” a new Preface that will reflect on the nearly twenty years that has passed since the book’s first publication, and an extended Postscript, with a response to recent discussions of my historical work on Rand’s education.

Returning to the Preface for our current issue, however, I'd like to provide more information on our Board of Advisors, which now boasts twelve members. Among them are these original six, whose contributions and work are worth revisiting:

Philosopher Douglas J. Den Uyl co-edited, with Douglas B. Rasmussen, The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand (1984), which was the first collection of scholarly essays on Rand. The book, published by the University of Illinois Press, included varied interpretive contributions from Antony Flew, Robert Hollinger, Charles King, Tibor R. Machan, Eric Mack, Wallace I. Matson, Jack Wheeler, and the editors. Its approach—which brought scholarly rigor to the study of one of the twentieth century’s most controversial thinkers—inspired the founders of this journal. Den Uyl also authored a Twayne’s Masterwork Series book, The Fountainhead: An American Novel (1999), but his scholarship extends well beyond the Randian, encompassing such other works as The Virtue of Prudence (1991) and God, Man, & Well Being: Spinoza’s Modern Humanism (2008). He is also the co-author, with Douglas B. Rasmussen, of such works as Liberty and Nature: An Aristotelian Defense of Liberal Order (1991). Den Uyl remains the Vice President of Educational Programs at The Liberty Fund.
Mimi Reisel Gladstein, a Professor of English and Theatre Arts at the University of Texas, El Paso, has been one of the most prolific writers in Rand studies. She wrote the trailblazing 1978 College English article, “Ayn Rand and Feminism: An Unlikely Alliance,” that ultimately inspired the provocative 1999 volume in the Pennsylvania State University Press book series, “Re-reading the Canon”: Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, which Gladstein and I co-edited. The series currently sports well over 30 volumes, each covering a major thinker in the Western canon, from Plato, Aristotle, and Immanuel Kant to Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, and Mary Daly. Gladstein’s Rand scholarship also includes The Ayn Rand Companion (1984) and its much more comprehensive second edition, The New Ayn Rand Companion (1999), each surveying the ever-growing literature on Rand—from the literary and biographical to the philosophic and cultural. She is also the author of a Twayne’s Masterwork Series book, Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto of the Mind (2000), and Ayn Rand (2009), part of the Continuum series on “Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers.” This is all in addition to her seminal work on John Steinbeck, which earned her the John J. and Angeline Pruis Award for Steinbeck Teacher of the Decade (1978–1987), and the Burkhardt Award for Outstanding Contributions to Steinbeck Studies (1996).
Historian Robert Hessen, a senior research fellow from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the editor of the multi-volume series Hoover Archival Documentaries. He has published many essays on topics in American economic and business history, and such books as In Defense of the Corporation (1978) and Steel Titan: The Life of Charles M. Schwab (1990)—not to mention original contributions to Ayn Rand’s Objectivist periodicals and to her book, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1967).
Lester H. Hunt, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the author of many articles on aesthetics, ethics, and politics, and such books as Nietzsche and the Origin of Virtue (1991) and Character and Culture (1997). He maintains the blog “E pur si muove!”
Eric Mack, a Professor of Philosophy at Tulane University, is the author of many essays on ethical and political philosophy, which have appeared in journals and books, and of such works as John Locke (forthcoming, January 2013), part of the Continuum series on “Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers.” He is also the editor of collections by Auberon Herbert (The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State and Other Essays, 1978) and Herbert Spencer (The Man versus the State, with Six Essays on Government, Society, and Freedom, 1981).
Douglas B. Rasmussen, Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University, co-edited with Douglas J. Den Uyl, The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand (1984). He is also co-author, with Den Uyl, of such works as Liberalism Defended: The Challenge of Post-Modernity (1998) and Norms of Liberty: A Perfectionist Basis for a Non-Perfectionist Politics (2005). His essays have appeared in such journals as American Philosophical Quarterly, International Philosophical Quarterly, The New Scholasticism, Public Affairs Quarterly, The Review of Metaphysics, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Social Philosophy and Policy, and The Thomist.

In the December 2012 Preface, I also present the six newest members of the JARS Board of Advisors:

David T. Beito, Professor of History at the University of Alabama, has authored many historical works, including Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance during the Great Depression (1989); From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890–1967 (2000); The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (2002); and, with co-author Professor Linda Royster Beito of Stillman College, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (2009). He is the founder of the “Liberty and Power Group Blog” , and has published in this very journal (“Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America,” Spring 2007, Issue 16).
Peter J. Boettke is a Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University (GMU), the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism, and the Director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at GMU. He has also authored works on the history and collapse of the Soviet economy, including The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918–1928 (1990); Why Perestroika Failed: The Economics and Politics of Socialist Transformation (1993); and Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy (2001). He is also the author of Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (2012) and a widely used textbook (co-authored with Paul Heyne and David Prychitko) entitled The Economic Way of Thinking (2009). He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Review of Austrian Economics. He contributed to our path-breaking Centenary Symposium, “Ayn Rand Among the Austrians” (Spring 2005, Issue 12), and is a scheduled participant in the 2014 American Philosophical Association Eastern Division meeting of the Ayn Rand Society on the topic, “The Moral Basis of Capitalism: Adam Smith, the Austrians, and Ayn Rand.”
Susan Love Brown, Professor of Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University, focuses on sociocultural, political, psychological, and African American anthropology, as well as on issues of gender, intentional communities, and social evolutionary theory. Her areal interests center on the United States and the Caribbean. She is the co-author (with Robert Bates Graber, Ralph M. Rowlett, Randall R. Skelton, and Ronald Kephart) of Meeting Anthropology Phase to Phase (2000), and the editor of Intentional Community: An Anthropological Perspective (2002). She has authored countless articles, which have appeared in many books, encyclopedias, and journals on topics as diverse as race and ethnicity, religion, and the counterculture. Her essays on Rand have appeared in several books—including Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (1999) and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion (2007)—and journals, including The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (to which she has contributed two essays).
Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson, Professor of Politics at the University of Iceland, earned his D.Phil. in Politics at the University of Oxford, where he was the R. G. Collingwood Scholar at Pembroke College. Among his many books are Hayek’s Conservative Liberalism (1987), Overfishing: The Icelandic Solution (2000), Kjarni malsins. Fleyg ord a islensku [A Dictionary of Quotations] (2010), and Islenskir kommunistar 1918–1998 [Icelandic Communists 1918–1998] (2011). He is also the Icelandic translator and editor of The Black Book of Communism (2009). He has served on the supervisory board of Iceland’s Central Bank (2001–2009) and on the board of the Mont Pelerin Society (1998– 2004) and is currently the academic director of RNH, the Icelandic Research Centre for Innovation and Economic Growth (RNH n.d). RNH is supporting the Icelandic Ayn Rand Project of the publishing house Almenna bokafelagid, which has already published Icelandic translations of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. In 2013, We the Living is due to be published in an Icelandic edition, which will include the play Night of January 16th (RNH 2012).
Steven Horwitz is the Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at St. Lawrence University. He is the author of Monetary Evolution, Free Banking, and Economic Order (1992), Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective (2000), and many articles on Austrian economics, Hayekian political economy, monetary theory and history, macroeconomics, and the social theory of the family. He co-edits the book series Advances in Austrian Economics. He has contributed essays to the JARS Symposium on “Ayn Rand and Progressive Rock” (Fall 2003, Issue 9) and the Centenary Symposium, “Ayn Rand Among the Austrians” (Spring 2005, Issue 12).
David N. Mayer, Professor of Law and History at Capital University, is the author of essays in law reviews, history and political science journals, and of the books The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (1994) and Liberty of Contract: Rediscovering a Lost Constitutional Right (2011). He also serves on the board of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law (in Columbus, Ohio), the editorial board of the Cato Supreme Court Review, the fellowships Academic Review Committee for the Institute for Humane Studies, and the advisory board of The Atlas Society. Among his essays is “Completing the American Revolution: The Significance of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at its Fiftieth Anniversary,” published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Spring 2008, Issue 18).


Working with JARS has been a labor of love, though I can think of a few instances where it has also been a labor of aggravation. That’s life. But after twelve years of independent publication, we are ecstatic to join forces with Pennsylvania State University Press, wherein we retain our intellectual independence and 100% control of the editorial side of this project. PSUP takes over all those managerial, production, subscription, and distribution tasks, all those tedious and endlessly exhausting tasks that I will truly miss. Not.

At the conclusion of our Tenth Anniversary Issue, it was my desire to have produced a Ten-Year Master Author Index, to remind readers of where we’ve been. Alas, circumstances made the production of that index impossible. But we have reached a major transitional moment in our history as we begin our collaboration with PSUP this year. So now, it seemed the perfect time to produce that Master Author Index, which provides an alphabetical listing of every author's essays, arranged chronologically. The Master Author Index can be found at the conclusion of the December 2012 issue; it covers all 12 volumes of the journal (Issues 1-24).

I should point out that I made one error in the Master Author Index; it was the omission of a single reference to Dennis C. Hardin. My apologies, Dennis! His entry is included in our Volume 12 index, but was mistakenly omitted from the Master Author Index. So, it gives me great pleasure to inform our readers that a corrected copy of the Master Author Index of our first twelve years of independent publication is now available as a PDF here. (We hope that JSTOR will provide a corrected copy as well.)

Finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Dave Barakat, with whom I worked closely in bringing this journal to print for so many years. Dave is now with Gator Communications Group LLC (they have a Facebook page too). He is, quite simply, one of the most professional, efficient, kindest, and downright charming people with whom I have ever worked. My best wishes to him in all his future endeavors.

December 31, 2012

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: Last 2012 Issue On the Way!

As the year ends, the promised December 2012 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is on the way! It will be submitted to the printer very shortly, and should be in the hands of subscribers in January 2013.

The New Year brings with it a new publisher for the journal. As explained here:

The JARS Foundation and the Pennsylvania State University Press (PSUP) have entered into a formal collaborative agreement, commencing with the publication in 2013 of Volume 13, Number 1 (Issue 25), covering five years—and beyond.
Our Editorial Board will continue to solicit new articles and attract new writers, working closely with authors and peer readers toward the publication of essays of the finest quality and capacity for intellectual provocation. PSUP will take over the business end of the journal, while the Editorial Board will focus exclusively on the intellectual side of our project. PSUP will manage all aspects of distribution and subscription fulfillment in both print and online journal editions. Our arrangement with PSUP will also provide a more systematic framework for quality control, which will structure our workflow for the submission, double-blind peer review, and tracking of articles as they make their way to publication. And once our editorial work is done, we will submit approved, completed essays to the PSUP production department, which will provide a second level of copyediting and the typesetting of all content.
PSUP will set all institutional and individual pricing, which includes print-only, online-only, or print-and-online subscriptions, inside and outside the United States. There will be options for article downloads on a newly developed website. Indeed, a robust online edition of the journal will have the added, indispensable features and services on which the scholarly community relies, including XML codes on all files, which will be used to produce printable PDFs, as well as PDFs and html files for the web, all fully searchable.
PSUP has partnered with Project Muse and with JSTOR (both its Current Scholarship Program and back issue archive), making possible the extensive digital dissemination of PSUP journals. JARS will be potentially available to thousands of new readers from private and public, domestic and international institutions, corporations, and agencies.
The most important aspect of our collaboration, however, is our plan for the preservation of the journal and its trailblazing content. PSUP participates in CrossRef and all of its journals are now archived at Stanford’s CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe). In essence, JARS, including all of its back issues dating from its 1999 inception, will be a part of the dark archive at Stanford that will preserve its content for the use of scholars and historians in perpetuity.

Penn State Press is already advertising on its site the New Look for a New JARS! Here's a sneak peek at the new look:

The New JARS Look for 2013

And because the journal now has a robust online edition, we have added an E-ISSN to our long-time ISSN:

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number, ISSN 1526-1018; E-ISSN 2169-7132

But let's not get ahead of ourselves!

A New JARS, the last pre-PSUP issue, will be on its way to subscribers shortly. And with it, comes an Expanding Editorial Board and an Expanding Board of Advisors.

I will be posting the Preface I've written in a couple of weeks; for now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our newly constituted Editorial Board and Board of Advisors.

The Editorial Board now has four editors; the Associate Editor, Robert L. Campbell, has been elevated to the formal Editorial Board, which now includes these four editors:

Robert L. Campbell
Stephen Cox
Roderick T. Long
Chris Matthew Sciabarra

And our Board of Advisors, which suffered the loss of two founding members over the last few years (economist Larry Sechrest and philosopher John Hospers), now boasts six new members and six founding members. I'll be providing additional information on our full Board of Advisors in the coming weeks. The new members are represented below with an asterisk (*).

David T. Beito (History, University of Alabama) *
Peter J. Boettke (Economics and Philosophy, George Mason University) *
Susan Love Brown (Anthropology, Florida Atlantic University) *
Douglas J. Den Uyl (Philosophy, The Liberty Fund)
Mimi Reisel Gladstein (English and Theatre Arts, University of Texas, El Paso)
Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson (Politics, University of Iceland) *
Robert Hessen (History, Emeritus, The Hoover Institution)
Steven Horwitz (Economics, St. Lawrence University) *
Lester H. Hunt (Philosophy, University of Wisconsin)
Eric Mack (Philosophy, Tulane University)
David N. Mayer (Law and History, Capital University Law School) *
Douglas B. Rasmussen (Philosophy, St. John's University)

Finally, here is the cover to our newest issue (December 2012), which features all-new content plus our year-end Index, and a Master Author Index of every article that has appeared in JARS over its first dozen volumes!

The Last 2012 JARS Issue is On the Way!!!

The issue includes the following essays:

Preface: Expanding Boards, Expanding Horizons - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Sex and the Egoist: Measuring Ayn Rand's Fiction Against Her Philosophy - Emily J. Barr

Taking Pieces of Rand with Them: Ayn Rand's Literary Influence - Robert Powell

Ayn Rand's Objectivist Virtues as the Foundation for Morality and Success in Business - Edward W. Younkins

Private War: Objectivist Political Philosophy and the Privatization of Military Force - Martin van Wetten

Ayn Rand Nation - Neil Parille

Check out the abstracts for these articles here and the contributor biographies here.

Watch this space for more information about our newest issue in the coming weeks. Till then, Happy New Year!

September 15, 2012

JARS: Multimedia Shmurak Essay in Archives

The other day, I announced a major collaborative project between The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Foundation and Pennsylvania State University Press. As part of that project, all of the journal's back issues will be accessible and fully searchable with state-of-the-art tools for those who have an online subscription.

Today, we have a special treat for long-time readers of the journal. For a while now, we have wanted to update the site to carry a very special video file that accompanied one of our issues from 2006. One of our most provocative essays was authored by Steven H. Shmurak for Volume 8, Number 1 (Issue #15), which was published in 2006.

Those who had JARS subscriptions received a hard copy of the journal with a very special CD-ROM included inside the back cover. As we indicate on the JARS "Table of Contents" featuring Shmurak's essay, "De-Mystifying Emotion: Introducing the Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins to Objectivists" (now available as a PDF here):

This article features a special CD-ROM presentation, which is now available for download from the JARS archives. The media provides the raw data upon which the article is based. You can safely look at the Read Me Txt File, and the presentation of "The 9 Innate Affects -- S. S. Tomkins" in two formats: PC or Mac [watch or right-click and "save as" to your local computer]. Our special thanks to the author for providing this presentation for our archives, and for providing our readers with a multimedia experience. Readers who wish to have the original CD-ROM disc that accompanied this essay [it was in a pocket glued to the inside back cover of Issue #15] can purchase it with this issue for the same price of any hard copy back issue. See our subscription page.

September 10, 2012

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: The Best is Yet to Come

The new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be on its way to subscribers within the next couple of weeks. And with it comes an announcement of a major breakthrough for the journal and for Rand scholarship as well.

First, let's take a look at the new issue, which is coming out in the thick of the U.S. Presidential campaign, and which includes a few essays that try to make sense of contemporary politics:

Preface - The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: The Best is Yet to Come - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

The Logic of Liberty: Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and the Logical Structure of the Political Spectrum - Roger E. Bissell

Ayn Rand Shrugged: The Gap Between Ethical Egoism and Global Capitalism - Andre Santos Campos

A Defense of Rothbardian Ethics via a Mediation of Hoppe and Rand - Cade Share

Ayn Rand and Deducing ‘Ought’ from ‘Is’ - Lachlan Doughney

The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis - Dennis C. Hardin

New JARS! Volume 12, Number 1

The JARS website features both abstracts and contributor biographies.

In keeping with our current policy of archiving back issues, fully accessible and free of charge to all those who visit our website, today marks the online debut of Volume 11, Number 1 (PDFs for each of the essays in that issue can be found at that link). That issue, dedicated to the memory of one of our founding Advisory Board members, philosopher John Hospers, features provocative essays by James Montmarquet, Samuel Bostaph, Robert Hartford, Walter Block, Robert L. Campbell, and Fred Seddon.

Our online publication of any issue lags behind the current issue by a full volume (about a year). Which means that those who wish to read the new JARS need to subscribe today!

The new issue includes a Preface, written by me, announcing a major breakthrough for the journal: a trailblazing partnership with Pennsylvania State University Press that will greatly expand the journal's scholarly reach. Here is what I have to say in the Preface (a PDF link to the full Preface can be found here):

In the Fall of 1999, the first issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS) was published, beginning a biannual scholarly discussion of Ayn Rand: her work, her life, her impact, and her legacy. Since then, we have published over 250 essays, written by over 130 authors, working across many disciplines and specialties. Our essays have covered subjects in aesthetics, anthropology, biography, business ethics, computer science, cultural studies, economics, epistemology, ethics, feminist studies, history, intellectual history, law, literary craft, literature, metaphysics, methodology, ontology, pedagogy, philosophical biology, philosophical psychology, general philosophy, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, political economy, political philosophy, political theory, psychology, and sociology. We have featured symposia on Rand’s ethics and on Rand’s aesthetics, on Nietzsche and Rand, on Rand and Progressive Rock, on Rand’s literary and cultural impact and on “Rand Among the Austrians” (that is, the Austrian school of economics, which includes such thinkers as Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard, etc.). Our content is now abstracted and indexed, in whole or in part, by nearly two dozen abstracting and indexing services, expanding our scholarly and institutional visibility.
Moreover, the journal has built a unique scholarly forum that welcomes those working from remarkably diverse interpretive and critical perspectives. Just a cursory look through our back catalogue reveals essays by such writers as the late libertarian philosopher John Hospers, laissez-faire economist George Reisman, and market anarchist Sheldon Richman, on the one hand, and the writings of American literary critic Gene Bell-Villada, philosopher Bill Martin (a self-described Maoist), and radical leftist Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, on the other hand [names linked to JARS essays].
This new issue of our periodical begins our twelfth year of publication with the announcement of a major breakthrough that has the potential to enhance the quality of this publication and increase its scholarly reach. It will also guarantee the long-term historical preservation of our entire catalogue of back issues for the benefit of future generations of scholars.
The JARS Foundation and the Pennsylvania State University Press (PSUP) have entered into a formal collaborative agreement, commencing with the publication in 2013 of Volume 13, Number 1 (Issue 25), covering five years—and beyond.
Our Editorial Board will continue to solicit new articles and attract new writers, working closely with authors and peer readers toward the publication of essays of the finest quality and capacity for intellectual provocation. PSUP will take over the business end of the journal, while the Editorial Board will focus exclusively on the intellectual side of our project. PSUP will manage all aspects of distribution and subscription fulfillment in both print and online journal editions. Our arrangement with PSUP will also provide a more systematic framework for quality control, which will structure our workflow for the submission, double-blind peer review, and tracking of articles as they make their way to publication. And once our editorial work is done, we will submit approved, completed essays to the PSUP production department, which will provide a second level of copyediting and the typesetting of all content.
PSUP will set all institutional and individual pricing, which includes print-only, online-only, or print-and-online subscriptions, inside and outside the United States. There will be options for article downloads on a newly developed website. Indeed, a robust online edition of the journal will have the added, indispensable features and services on which the scholarly community relies, including XML codes on all files, which will be used to produce printable PDFs, as well as PDFs and html files for the web, all fully searchable.
PSUP has partnered with Project Muse and with JSTOR (both its Current Scholarship Program and back issue archive), making possible the extensive digital dissemination of PSUP journals. JARS will be potentially available to thousands of new readers from private and public, domestic and international institutions, corporations, and agencies.
The most important aspect of our collaboration, however, is our plan for the preservation of the journal and its trailblazing content. PSUP participates in CrossRef and all of its journals are now archived at Stanford’s CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe). In essence, JARS, including all of its back issues dating from its 1999 inception, will be a part of the dark archive at Stanford that will preserve its content for the use of scholars and historians in perpetuity.
The good news for subscribers is that there will be only a modest rise in subscription rates. Our domestic rates have been the same since our very first issue in 1999, and JARS will remain affordable for all those whose support we have valued deeply.
We will always be profoundly indebted to those who made this journal possible, especially to the late Bill Bradford [PDF link], whose vision continues to inspire us. We know that our new partnership with PSUP will vastly increase our exposure in the international community of scholars, providing a means for preserving all of the contributions of our authors, and a context for the ever-growing electronic dissemination of our content.

Taking a page from the songbook of Ol' Blue Eyes, I know that, for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, "The Best is Yet to Come."

Announcement also posted on the Liberty & Power Group Blog.

April 09, 2012

Multilingual Appeal

A brief essay I wrote back in July of 2004, "The First Landing of Ayn Rand in Japan!," which discusses the first Japanese translation of The Fountainhead, was just, itself, translated into Romanian, courtesy of Alexandra Seremina. Readers of the language will get a lot more out of the reading than I will, I suspect, but I'm very grateful to have this on the web.

Here's the Romanian translation of my essay: "Prima aterizare A AYN RAND IN JAPONIA!"

Enjoy!

January 31, 2012

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: New Issue

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies concludes its 11th year with an all-new issue: Volume 11, Number 2. Subscribers should be receiving the issue in the coming weeks. It features these provocative essays:

Sacrifice and the Apocalypse: A Girardian Reading of Atlas Shrugged - Oliver Gerland III

Objectivism and Christianity - Eric B. Dent

The Sim-Dif Model and Comparison - Merlin Jetton

What About Suicide Bombers? A Terse Response to a Terse Objection - Marc Champagne

The Six Million Dollar Rand (Review of 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand) - Neil Parille

Flourishing and Synthesis (Review of Ed Younkins's book, Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society) - Allen Mendenhall

New JARS! Volume 11, Number 2

The JARS website features both abstracts and contributor biographies for the current issue.

Those who have been following JARS developments know that it is now our policy to publish back issues on our site, fully accessible and free of charge to all those who visit us online. Since electronic publication of essays from our back issues lags by a full volume, I am pleased to announce today the online availability of Volume 10, Number 2, the culminating "Tenth Anniversary" issue of JARS that presented a terrific symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. The essays are archived here; authors include Stephen R. C. Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed, Peter Saint-Andre, Roger E. Bissell, and Robert Powell.

But please don't wait a year to see our new issue online; it's available now! Subscribe today! You can subscribe via Paypal on our home page or subscription page, or by printing and filling out this form and mailing it in with your check or money order.

I should note also that The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is now being abstracted in a variety of indexes managed by ProQuest. Our scholarly reach is expanding with each newly published issue.

July 28, 2011

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: The Second Decade Begins ...

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies begins its second decade with the publication of a brand new issue. As explained in my Preface to the Eleventh Year, the journal has dispensed with its Northern-hemisphere-centric "Fall" and "Spring" publication schedule, opting for real-time dates and the addition of an overall "Issue Number."

The new issue, dedicated to the memory of one of our founding Advisory Board members, philosopher John Hospers, features exciting essays in Rand studies, including:

Prometheus: Ayn Rand’s Ethic of Creation, by philosophy professor James Montmarquet

Ayn Rand’s Economic Thought, by economics professor Samuel Bostaph

A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom, by Dr. Robert Hartford

Ayn Rand, Religion, and Libertarianism, by economics professor Walter Block

The Rewriting of Ayn Rand’s Spoken Answers, by psychology professor Robert L. Campbell

Essays on Atlas Shrugged, by philosophy professor Fred Seddon

The Journal Begins Its Second Decade!

The JARS website features both abstracts and contributor biographies for the current issue.

Those who have been following JARS developments know that it is now our policy to publish back issues on our site, fully accessible and free of charge to all those who visit us online. However, publication on the site lags by a full volume, which means that online publication of the current issue won't occur for at least a year, depending on the timeliness of our publication schedule.

But the good news is that just as Volume 11, Number 1 (Issue 21) appears, those who wish to read Volume 10, Number 1 (the first of two Tenth Anniversary Issues) can now access its essays here! And what an issue that was, with key essays by Roger E. Bissell, Robert L. Campbell, Kathleen Touchstone, J. H. Huebert, Fred Seddon and Roderick Long, Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen, and Peter E. Vedder. So, in a way, every announcement of a new issue of JARS brings with it an announcement that the journal will be simultaneously publishing a back issue on its website.

It also means, however, that if you want to get in on the excitement now, don't wait a year! The new issue should start making its appearance in subscriber mailboxes by mid-to-late August. So if you have let your subscription lapse, renew today, by filling out this form and mailing it in with your check or money order. Better still: Take advantage of our online Paypal Express Service (see the drop-down menu here). Our basic individual domestic rate has been the same since our very first issue, unchanged in over ten years! So act now! (Lapsed subscribers and those in need of renewal after receipt of the new issue will be hearing from us in the mail.)

Finally, it delights me to announce that with this newest issue, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies begins a fruitful relationship with Scopus, "the world's largest abstract and citation database" of peer-reviewed research literature and quality web sources. Scopus covers nearly 18,000 titles from more than 5,000 publishers, providing "smart tools to track analyze and visualize research." Scopus will actually be abstracting and indexing JARS issues going back to 2009, providing researchers with "tools to sort, refine and quickly identify results ..."

With the addition of Scopus, and our ongoing relationship with EBSCO, JARS is now covered, in whole or in part, by 21 abstracting and indexing services in the humanities and social sciences.

I remember that in the early days of our existence, we worked diligently, clamoring at the doors of major abstracting and indexing services with the hope that they would add JARS to their databases. Such coverage is essential: It not only expands the visibility of the journal; it provides greater incentive to a diverse array of scholars to submit their papers to our peer-review process. Today, as our global reach continues to expand, it is all the more gratifying that abstracting and indexing services routinely approach JARS with invitations to add the journal to their databases.

This is an achievement that has been made possible by a team of editors, advisors, peer readers, authors, and very loyal subscribers. I extend my deepest, heartfelt appreciation to all those who have contributed to our growing success.

On to the second decade ... and beyond!

July 27, 2011

New(ish) Encyclopedia Entries

I have a very big announcement tomorrow about a brand new issue of a very special journal, but before getting to that, I just wanted to take note of a few encyclopedia entries, written by yours truly, which were recently published, and are now available on my site in .pdf versions:

"Libertarianism," Encyclopedia of Political Science, edited by George Thomas Kurian (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2011), Volume 3: H-M: 965-66

"Ayn Rand," Encyclopedia of Political Science, edited by George Thomas Kurian (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2011), Volume 5: R-Z: 1422-23.

"Murray Rothbard," Encyclopedia of Political Science, edited by George Thomas Kurian (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2011), Volume 5: R-Z: 1489.

Oh, and this entry...

"Ayn Rand," American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in U.S. History, edited by Gina Misiroglu (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc.; Sharpe Reference, 2009).

... is included in an encyclopedia (noted above) that won the RUSA Award for Best Reference Work, given by the American Library Association.

June 30, 2011

John Hospers, RIP

Philosopher John Hospers passed away on June 12, 2011. John was known for his work on libertarianism, and for being the first Presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party (and the only LP candidate to date, to receive, in 1972, with his running mate Tonie Nathan, an electoral vote from a rogue elector, Roger McBride, who, himself, went on to be an LP Presidential candidate 4 years later).

To me, John was a gentle man, a friend, and a colleague. He gave me much encouragement and support when I was writing my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and he was among the founding Advisory Board members of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

February 26, 2011

The 1,500th Notablog Entry: Announcing The New JARS Archives!

This marks the 1,500th blog entry here at Notablog, though I was writing Notablog-ish entries (here, here, here, and here) long before I officially inaugurated this particular one. And, yes, more than half of these entries have had something to do with music, dancing, or entertainment, rather than politics, philosophy, or economics. I genuinely appreciate the radical sensibility of anarchist Emma Goldman, to whom is attributed the statement: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution!"

I want to thank readers for their continued interest in Notablog.

Today, on the occasion of the 1500th entry, I want to take this opportunity to announce some new developments over at The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. As explained here, the journal underwent a number of major changes in 2009, including three moves (from Port Townsend, Washington to Reno, Nevada, to Brooklyn, New York). The second issue celebrating our tenth anniversary year was not released until mid-2010, a year late, and our next issue, which inaugurates the eleventh volume, will be published in mid-2011.

As of today, however, the journal is making available PDFs of every essay to have ever appeared since our first issue, published in September 1999. Take a look at our various Tables of Contents here.

For the past ten years, these back issues were available as hard copies, but our stock dwindled considerably. By mid-2004, EBSCO Publishing, the world's most prolific aggregator of full-text journals, magazines, and other sources, began publishing the full text of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies on their databases. Current issues will continue to be published in hard copy and sent to subscribers, just as they will continue to appear electronically with EBSCO. But since EBSCO does not carry electronic back issues from Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 1999) to Volume 5, Number 1 (Fall 2003), and since it has become increasingly difficult to find hard copies of these issues, we have decided to make PDFs of all of our back issues freely accessible as archives on our website (PDFs of the later issues are of higher quality because the journal is now prepared as PDF-ready for our printer... ).

Publication on our site will lag by a full volume (which will mean at least a year, depending on the timeliness of our publication schedule... ). In other words, those who seek to read Volume 10, Number 1 on the website will have to wait until Volume 11, Number 1 is published. And so on ...

Therefore, those who want to keep current with JARS will have to maintain their subscriptions or to purchase single issues when they become available. But those who wish to access any articles published prior to Volume 10, Number 1 can now do so, immediately, and free of charge.

With the journal now indexed in whole or in part by many abstracting services in the humanities and the social sciences, the availability of essays from our first decade will make it easier for scholars to research various topics in Rand studies.

March 19, 2010

JARS Tenth Anniversary Celebration Concludes

Spring is here (as of 1:32 pm EDT tomorrow), and that means the Spring issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is here too!

Ah, if only publication schedules were as reliable as the Vernal Equinox. As reported here, the journal moved from Port Townsend, Washington to Reno, Nevada, and now all operations are out of Brooklyn, New York. I've had a few bumps in the road of my own to deal with, but I'm happy to report that the new issue is finally at the printer. This is our long-awaited symposium on Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche, and we should be getting the issue off to subscribers within the next two weeks. And yes, it is a Spring issue, even if our year is off a bit.

Our Tenth Anniversary Year Concludes!

Readers will be treated to a provocative discussion of the relationship between the two thinkers, featuring the following essays and authors:

Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand - Stephen R. C. Hicks

Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand: A Somewhat Different Approach - Lester Hunt

Ronald E. Merrill and the Discovery of Ayn Rand’s Nietzschean Period - Adam Reed

Nietzsche, Rand, and the Ethics of the Great Task - Peter Saint-Andre

Will the Real Apollo Please Stand Up? Rand, Nietzsche, and the Reason-Emotion Dichotomy - Roger E. Bissell

Embracing Power Roles Naturally: Rand’s Nietzschean Heroes and Villains - Robert Powell

Abstracts for the new issue appear here; contributor biographies can be found here.

Our publication schedule will be getting back to normal in the coming months. A few back issues are still available, though hard copies are going fast, and we are working hard to digitize our oldest issues for the benefit of our readers. Most importantly, our subscription databases are up to date, and we encourage new subscribers to take advantage of our new Paypal Express (see our subscription page).

Subscribe today!

December 17, 2009

A JARS Grows in Brooklyn

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has undergone a number of changes over the past year, not the least of which has been geographic! The office moved from Port Townsend, Washington to Reno, Nevada. Now, all business, subscription, and editorial queries should be directed to:

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies
P. O. Box 230052
Brooklyn, New York 11223

Yes, Brooklyn! :)

Our Spring 2009 issue is obviously very late, but it should be out to subscribers early in the new year. Subscription databases are being updated, so if you've made an inquiry that has gone unanswered for a while, be patient. A batch of materials and letters went out this week, and more will go out in the coming weeks. If you'd like a subscription to the journal, fill out this form and mail it in today!

The next issue will complete our Tenth Anniversary celebration. It features a special symposium on Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche, with special guest editor Lester Hunt. Essays by Hunt, Stephen R. C. Hicks, Peter Saint-Andre, Roger E. Bissell, and Robert Powell are included.

More information on the issue will be posted here and at the JARS website soon. Stay tuned! And Happy Holidays from your friends and colleagues at The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

February 25, 2009

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: 10 Years and Counting

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was first published in the Fall of 1999; our Fall 2008 issue (running just a little late) is now out, and marks the beginning of our Tenth Anniversary Celebration.

Tenth Anniversary Year for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

The abstracts for the newest issue appear here; the contributor biographies appear here. There have been a few changes over at the JARS site... and more are coming. New indices for the Table of Contents and the Contributor Biographies are now on the site. Also, JARS has recently been picked up by the indexing service, Scopus.

The newest issue includes the following articles:

Mind, Introspection, and "The Objective" - Roger E. Bissell
The Peikovian Doctrine of the Arbitrary Assertion - Robert L. Campbell
Economic Decision-Making and Ethical Choice - Kathleen Touchstone

Reviews and Discussions
Re-Reading Atlas Shrugged - J. H. Huebert
Plato, Aristotle, Rand, and Sexuality - Fred Seddon
Reply to Fred Seddon: Interpreting Plato's Dialogues: Aristotle versus Seddon - Roderick T. Long
Rejoinder to Roderick T. Long: Long on Interpretation - Fred Seddon
Reply to Peter E. Vedder, "Self-Directedness and the Human Good" (Fall 2007): Defending Norms of Liberty - Douglas J. Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen
Rejoinder to Douglas J. Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen: Difficulties in Norms of Liberty - Peter E. Vedder

Enjoy!

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

July 08, 2008

New Spring 2008 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

"But I thought this was summer, Sciabarra!" Yeah, well. Welcome to the New Spring! That is, the new Spring 2008 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies! This issue completes the ninth volume of JARS, a precursor to our Tenth Anniversary Year!

New JARS: Volume 9, Number 2

The Table of Contents is as follows:

Completing the American Revolution: The Significance of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged at its Fiftieth Anniversary - David N. Mayer

Rand and MacIntyre on Moral Agency - Ron Beadle

Rand on Hume's Moral Skepticism - Tibor R. Machan

Toward the Development of a Paradigm of Human Flourishing in a Free Society - Edward W. Younkins

Missing the Mark: Salsman's Review of the Great Depression - Larry Sechrest

Reviews and Discussions

Defending Advertising (review of Jerry Kirkpatrick's book, In Defense of Advertising) - Juliusz Jablecki

Reply to Juliusz Jablecki: The Connection between Advertising and Objectivist Epistemology - Jerry Kirkpatrick

Rejoinder to Jerry Kirkpatrick: Advertising, Capitalism, and Christianity - Juliusz Jablecki

Reply to Stephen E. Parrish, "God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion" (Spring 2007) and Patrick Toner, "Objectivist Atheology" (Spring 2007):
Not Even False: A Commentary on Parrish and Toner - Adam Reed

Rejoinder to Adam Reed: What's Good for the Goose and Related Matters - Stephen E. Parrish

Rejoinder to Adam Reed: God-Talk and the Arbitrary - Patrick Toner

You can read abstracts of the above articles here, and mini-biographies of our contributors here. And don't forget that in due course, EBSCO will offer our newest issue through their databases! Check out your institutional and local libraries!

Noted at L&P.

February 19, 2008

JARS Call for Papers: Ayn Rand and War

The new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has been published (see here). It marks the beginning of our ninth year.

This means, of course, that next year, JARS will be celebrating its Tenth Anniversary. As part of our Tenth Anniversary year, we are already scheduled to publish a major symposium on "Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche."

We are also issuing another Call for Papers on the topic of "Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and War." The deadline for proposals is July 1, 2008; the deadline for papers is October 15, 2008.

We are interested in papers that cover any aspect of this very broad topic: Rand's view of war; defenses or critiques of Rand-influenced views of "just war," the current war or past wars, terrorism, "collateral damage," torture, the relationship between domestic and foreign policy, etc.

We are less interested in discussions of "current events"—except insofar as they illustrate broader principles. Remember that we are a semi-annual and that the state of "current events" will change considerably before these essays are brought to print.

Submissions should adhere to our style guidelines; proposals should be submitted via email to me: chris DOT sciabarra AT nyu DOT edu

Cross-posted at L&P.

New Journal of Ayn Rand Studies: Vol. 9, No. 1

I am delighted to announce the publication of the Fall 2007 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Yes, it's a little late, but, I think, well worth the wait.

New JARS: Vol. 9, No. 1

The Table of Contents is as follows:

To Think or Not: A Structural Resolution to the Mind-Body and Free Will-Determinism Problem - Neil K. Goodell
Ayn Rand and "The Objective": A Closer Look at the Intrinsic-Objective-Subjective Trichotomy - Roger E. Bissell
Self-as-Organism and Sense of Self: Toward a Differential Conception - Andrew Schwartz
Society: Toward an Objective View - Susan Love Brown
A Critique of Ayn Rand’s Theory of Intellectual Property Rights - Timothy Sandefur

Reviews
Self-Directedness and the Human Good - Peter E. Vedder
Ayn Rand, Novelist - Peter Saint-Andre

Discussion
Reply to Fred Seddon, "Recent Writings on Ethics": On Behalf of Ethical Intuitionism - Michael Huemer
Rejoinder to Michael Huemer: Neglecting Rand's Metaethics - Fred Seddon

Abstracts of the above articles can be found here; contributor biographies are available here.

Cross-posted at L&P.

January 18, 2008

IESS Entry on "Objectivism"

I've authored an entry on Ayn Rand's philosophy, "Objectivism," which appears in the new International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, a 9-volume, 4000-page work published by Macmillan Reference USA, edited by William A. Darity, Jr. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008). The article can be found in Volume 6: Oaxaca, Ronald - Quotas, Trade, pp. 6-8, but the people at Gale / Cengage Learning have been kind enough to give me permission to post the PDF of the article on my home site.

You can access the essay as a PDF document here.

INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Cross-posted at L&P.

November 02, 2007

Homonograph Available Again!

By an arrangement with the publisher, my "homonograph," Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation, is finally available at Amazon.com at a price that is considerably lower than those $46.95 or $59.95 collectible copies being sold on that site by used booksellers.

For those who are interested in learning more about the homonograph, check out the homo home page here, along with a listing of its table of contents and various reviews.

Point your browser to the book cover below and click yourself over to Amazon.com:

Homonograph Available at Amazon.com

October 10, 2007

Song of the Day #828

Song of the Day: Born to Be Alive, music, lyrics, and performance by Patrick Hernandez, was a huge #1 dance hit in 1979. Happy 50th anniversary to Atlas Shrugged, the Ayn Rand novel that celebrates human beings who are ... born to be alive! Check out this song on YouTube.

September 20, 2007

Conference Board Review: Atlas Shrugged at 50

There are several essays out there discussing the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. One such essay, written by A. J. Vogl, editor of The Conference Board Review, was just published in the magazine's September-October 2007 issue. Vogl interviewed me, among others, for his article, and a summary of my own comments appears here.

I also note my fellow JARS editor, Roderick Long's recent post, "Atlas Plugged," which provides another example of Rand's influence on comics (something I discussed in my essay, "The Illustrated Rand").

There will be more on the golden anniversary of Atlas in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Also noted on Liberty & Power Group Blog.

August 14, 2007

EBSCO and a New Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

I'm delighted to announce that The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Foundation has entered into an electronic licensing relationship with EBSCO Publishing, the world's most prolific aggregator of full-text journals, magazines, and other sources. Starting with our next issue, in addition to our regular print version, the full text of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be found on EBSCO Publishing's databases. And, in time, we look forward to seeing all of the articles from our past issues available in this format as well.

In the meanwhile, a crazy Spring and an even crazier Summer (did somebody say a Tornado in BROOKLYN!!!???) could not prevent the publication of the new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

New Spring 2007 JARS

Volume 8, Number 2 features the following essays and contributors:

God and Objectivism: A Critique of Objectivist Philosophy of Religion - Stephen E. Parrish

Objectivist Atheology - Patrick Toner

Merely Metaphorical? Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson, and the Language of Theory - Stephen Cox

Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America - David T. Beito

Recent Writings on Ethics - Fred Seddon

Unilateral Transfers and a Reinterpretation of Objectivist Ethics - Eren Ozgen

Reply to Tibor R. Machan, "Rand and Choice" (Spring 2006), Eric Mack, "More Problematic Arguments in Randian Ethics" (Spring 2006), and Douglas B. Rasmussen, "Regarding Choice and the Foundation of Morality: Reflections on Rand's Ethics" (Spring 2006):
Objectivity and the Proof of Egoism - Robert Hartford

Rejoinder to Robert Hartford:
A Brief Comment on Hartford - Tibor R. Machan

Rejoinder to Robert Hartford:
Rand's Metaethics - Douglas B. Rasmussen

Reply to David Graham and Nathan Nobis, "Putting Humans First?" (Fall 2006):
Putting Humans First? YES! - John Altick

Rejoinder to John Altick:
Animals and Rights - David Graham and Nathan Nobis

Check out the abstracts for the above articles here and the contributor biographies here.

Cross-posted to L&P.

July 10, 2007

Rand-o-rama

David Glenn, a Senior Reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education, interviewed me via email for a series of articles on "Ayn Rand's Academic Legacy." The articles appear in the paper's July 13, 2007 issue, and are also available online to subscribers. Check out Glenn's blog post today, "Rand-o-rama," in which he provides links to the CHE series (and also mentions my work on the radical, noninterventionist aspects of Rand's perspective on U.S. foreign policy).

Readers will remember that I was interviewed back in 1999 by Jeff Sharlet of CHE (mentioned by Glenn in his blog post as well; see here and here) on the growth in Rand scholarship. While the most recent essays don't mention me by name, they allude to my 1995 book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and also mention The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, of which I am a founding co-editor. (For nonsubscribers, a summary of the above references in Glenn's essays appears in my "About the Author" section. See here.)

Also noted at L&P.

June 25, 2007

Atlas Shrugged Companion Published

I have finally received my own copy of a new book edited by Edward W. Younkins entitled Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, published by Ashgate. I understand the book is already going into a second printing. It includes contributions from writers such as Douglas B. Rasmussen, Fred Seddon, Lester H. Hunt, Tibor R. Machan, Roderick T. Long, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Jeff Riggenbach, Kirsti Minsaas, Roger E. Bissell, Peter J. Boettke, Larry J. Sechrest, Steven Horwitz, Karen Michalson, Peter Saint-Andre, Susan Love Brown, Robert L. Campbell, Stephen Cox, Douglas J. Den Uyl, Walter Block, and, of course, Ed Younkins too. Oh, and I have a contribution in the book, published as Chapter 2, entitled "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism," which expands upon dialectical themes I've explored in previous works, especially my reconstruction of Rand's social analysis as a "tri-level model."

New Atlas Shrugged Companion Published

I noticed that all of the contributors mentioned above have something in common... they have all been published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies! And some of them are either editors or advisors to the journal. (The Spring 2007 issue will be out a little late; I will post its contents and the cover design on my blog before too long.)

In any event, I have not read the new Younkins anthology yet, but the range of topics, from the philosophical, political, and aesthetic to the literary, economic, and historical, is quite impressive. The book's appearance coincides with the 50th anniversary year of the publication of Rand's magnum opus.

Cross-posted at L&P.

March 23, 2007

Ayn Rand Goes Swedish

Late last year, Mattias Svensson, a friend and former student, proposed to translate one of my articles on Ayn Rand for Voltaire, a magazine with 30,000 subscribers published in Sweden. The magazine is put out by Power and Culture; the director of the organization, Boris Benulic, decided to do a Rand-themed issue, with Mattias as the guest editor.

Mattias translated a revised version of my essay, "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism." The full English version of that essay appears in a forthcoming anthology, edited by Edward W. Younkins, entitled Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion (Ashgate, 2007) (and a shortened, edited version of this essay also appears in The Freeman and in Tibor Machan's edited collection, Ayn Rand at 100).

Sciabarra Essay in Voltaire

In any event, if you are inclined to read the Swedish essay, which looks even prettier in the glossy magazine's March/April 2007 issue, it now appears online, starting here.

My thanks to Mattias and to Voltaire for a job well done.

Also noted at Liberty and Power Group Blog. (And a shout out "welcome" to Lester Hunt, who joins L&P.)

November 17, 2006

New Fall 2006 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

The new Fall 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has been published. The issue includes essays from contributors such as Steven H. Shmurak, Marc Champagne, Fred Seddon (two from Fred!), Algirdas Degutis, Susan Love Brown, David Graham & Nathan Nobis, Kirsti Minsaas, Greg Nyquist, Gregory M. Browne and Roderick T. Long. And I'm delighted to report that with this issue, Roderick joins the Editorial Board of JARS!

New Fall 2006 JARS!  Features a Special CD-ROM Presentation!

Here is the Fall line-up:

Demystifying Emotion: Introducing the Affect Theory of Silvan Tomkins to Objectivists - Steven H. Shmurak
(Shmurak's article is accompanied by a special CD-ROM presentation)

Some Convergences and Divergences in the Realism of Charles Peirce and Ayn Rand - Marc Champagne

Rand and Rescher on Truth - Fred Seddon

Deconstructing Postmodern Xenophilia - Algirdas Degutis

Reviews
Essays on Ayn Rand’s Fiction - Susan Love Brown

Putting Humans First? - David Graham and Nathan Nobis

Ayn Rand as Literary Mentor - Kirsti Minsaas

Discussion
Reply to Fred Seddon, “Nyquist Contra Rand”
Rand and Empirical Responsibility - Greg Nyquist

Rejoinder to Greg Nyquist
Nyquist Contra Rand, Part II - Fred Seddon

Reply to Roderick T. Long, “Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis”
The ‘Grotesque’ Dichotomies Still Unbeautified - Gregory M. Browne

Rejoinder to Gregory M. Browne
A Beauty Contest for Dichotomies: Browne’s Terminological Revolutions - Roderick T. Long

Check out the abstracts for the new issue here, and the contributor biographies here.

Cross-posted to L&P.

August 11, 2006

New Book: Ayn Rand at 100

In my post "This and That," I referred to a forthcoming anthology edited by Edward W. Younkins entitled Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, which will be published next year by Ashgate. An essay I've written, entitled "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism," appears in that volume. It is actually a much longer and more comprehensive version of an essay that appeared in the January-February 2005 issue of The Freeman. A PDF version of the shorter Freeman article can be found here.

The Freeman essay also makes an appearance in a new collection, edited by my friend and colleague, Tibor R. Machan, entitled Ayn Rand at 100 (okay, okay, it's a little late).

Ayn Rand at 100

The book makes its debut on Wednesday, August 16, 2006. And it is being published by the Liberty Institute in India!!! In fact, Tibor will be giving several talks next week to launch the book in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

The book synopsis states: "Eminent authors discuss the impact [Ayn Rand] has had on their contribution to philosophy and, most importantly, Rand’s Indian connection." Here is the Table of Contents:

Preface : Tibor R. Machan: Ayn Rand at 100
Chapter 1: Bibek Debroy: Ayn Rand -­ The Indian Connection
Chapter 2: Tibor R. Machan: Rand and Her Significant Contributions
Chapter 3: J. E. Chesher: Ayn Rand’s Contribution to Moral Philosophy
Chapter 4: George Reisman: Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises
Chapter 5: Robert White: Ayn Rand’s Contribution to Liberal Thought
Chapter 6: Roderick T. Long: Ayn Rand and Indian Philosophy
Chapter 7: Chris Matthew Sciabarra: Ayn Rand - A Centennial Appreciation
Chapter 8: Fred Seddon: Ayn Rand - An Appreciation
Chapter 9: Elaine Sternberg: Why Ayn Rand Matters: Metaphysics, Morals, and Liberty
Chapter 10: Douglas Den Uyl : Rand's First Great Hit, The Fountainhead

I've not read all of the other essays in the collection, but I suspect it's going to be a fine anthology.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted at Liberty & Power Group Blog.

August 09, 2006

This and That

After a month on summer hiatus, Notablog returns.

I have no clue what shape the blog will take at this point. While I am truly inspired by those who have the time to blog daily, and to blog with substance on such a regular basis, I have found that due to my own very personal circumstances and to my own professional commitments and responsibilities, it is virtually impossible to keep up with regular blogging or to post daily on the significant developments in the world today. Suffice it to say, while Notablog returns, and while I will resume my "Song of the Day" feature this weekend (and don't be surprised if this becomes a "Song of the Week" feature in time), I am still working diligently on many projects that demand my attention.

I should note that the Summer of 2006, which is a little more than half over, has been a productive one thus far. Aside from enjoying the sun and the sea and the lighting of the Coney Island Parachute Jump (Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower), I've been hard at work. I've completed three entries for the International Encyclopedia of Political Science and another entry for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (more information on these entries will follow in the coming months). In addition to continuing my editing of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, I've also completed a piece for the forthcoming Ed Younkins-edited anthology, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which will be published next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication. My contribution is entitled: "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism."

On the subject of Ayn Rand, I have written a brief essay for the September 2006 issue of Liberty magazine. It's part of a special feature entitled "Ten Great Books of Liberty." My entry focuses on Rand's novel, The Fountainhead.

While I've been on hiatus, it came to my attention that I was memed by Nick Manley. The meme has considerable overlap with a blog entry I wrote on those works that had a significant effect on my intellectual development.

Much of that development has been influenced by dialectics, the art of context-keeping. But dialectics has taken various forms tnroughout intellectual history, and the Marxian dialectic is, of course, one of them. A new film, entitled "Half Nelson," apparently delves into the subject. I may not see the movie until it reaches DVD status, but it looks like it might be entertaining.

Marxian dialectics has interested me for many years, going back to my dissertation and to the publication of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia. Author Kevin M. Brien has published a second edition of his fine work, Marx, Reason, and the Art of Freedom, which addresses criticisms I made of his first edition back in the Fall 1988 issue of Critical Review. I hope to discuss Brien's rejoinder in the coming weeks.

In the next few weeks, I will also publish an exclusive Notablog installment of my annual feature, "Remembering the World Trade Center." This year's installment is particularly important; it comes on the fifth anniversary of that awful tragedy and it marks the first time that I will take readers inside the WTC. My interview subject was on the 89th floor of the North Tower when the first plane struck. That he survived to tell this harrowing story is a blessing to those of us who will never forget September 11, 2001. This was the most difficult interview I have ever conducted, but I trust that readers will agree with me that it is among the most important contributions to my annual series.

So stay tuned to Notablog. The music starts up again this weekend, and will include a 12-day tribute to Tony Bennett (who turned 80 on August 3rd), the return of my annual tribute to TV themes, and a September spotlight on The Four Seasons (loved "Jersey Boys").

Comments are open. Welcome back.

May 22, 2006

Journal of Ayn Rand Studies' Spring 2006 Issue

It gives me great pleasure to announce the publication of the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. The issue features a dialogue on Ayn Rand's ethics, with contributions from Tibor R. Machan, Frank Bubb, Eric Mack, Douglas B. Rasmussen, Robert H. Bass, Chris Cathcart, and Robert L. Campbell. In addition, there are articles covering topics in epistemology (Merlin Jetton) and literature (Kurt Keefner and Peter Saint-Andre). Other contributors include Sheldon Richman on Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand; Max Hocutt on postmodernism; Steven Yates on capitalism and commerce; and David M. Brown on the new Ayn Rand Q&A book.

The issue opens with my own tribute to R. W. Bradford, without whom The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies would never have been founded. This Spring 2006 issue is dedicated to the memory of Bradford, Joan Kennedy Taylor, and Chris Tame. A PDF of my tribute piece is available here.

For subscription information, see here.

Cross-posted to L&P. See also the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog.

April 18, 2006

Jason Dixon Interviews Me

Today, I publish a Notablog exclusive: An interview of me conducted by Jason Dixon. The interview was conducted in late 2005-early 2006, but is finally seeing the light of day here at Notablog.

Check it out:

An Interview Conducted by Jason Dixon

Comments welcome. Also noted at L&P.

April 09, 2006

Passionate About JARS

Not to be sacrilegious or anything, but HALLELUAH and HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST (the Western Palm Sunday has arrived, hasn't it?). I finished preparing the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and I am delighted that it's now going into production. Readers should expect it sometime in the late Spring.

It's going to be a really nice issue for those who are especially interested in Ayn Rand's ethics. JARS had published two critical essays on Rand's ethics some time ago, one written by Eric Mack and the other by Douglas Rasmussen. The essays elicited replies in the forthcoming issue from Tibor Machan and Frank Bubb, and both Mack and Rasmussen have written rejoinders. In addition, we have a very interesting exchange on the issue of egoism and individual rights, which features a contribution from Robert Bass, replies from Chris Cathcart and Robert Campbell, and a rejoinder from Bass.

The second half of the issue features essays on epistemology (Jetton), Rand's descriptive style (Saint-Andre), Atlas Shrugged and Quo Vadis (Keefner), Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand (Sheldon Richman), and reviews of Stephen Hicks's book on postmodernism (Hocutt), Ed Younkins's book Capitalism and Commerce (Yates), and Robert Mayhew's edited volume on Rand's Q&A's (Brown).

Abstracts and contributor biographies will be made available online when the issue is published and ready for shipment.

Meanwhile, I was just alerted to an ongoing debate at SOLO-Passion, which, apparently, has given rise to some familiar criticism of JARS, a journal that remains near and dear to my heart.

As readers of Notablog are well aware, I resolved at the beginning of December 2005 that I would not be posting to forums anymore. Aside from the occasional cross-post to Liberty and Power Group Blog or the Mises Economics Blog, I have stopped posting to the nearly two dozen forums on which I was once an avid participant. My reputation for spreading myself around led SOLO founder Lindsay Perigo to once dub me "Her Royal Whoreness." Well, this whore has retired to the quiet life of research, writing, and editing. There are just so many hours in the day, and I have chosen to focus my efforts on the things that are most important: My work done my way on my time. Naturally, therefore, Notablog has become the primary place for my regular musings on everything from music to foreign policy.

On a personal note, I should add, however, that my absence from the various forums on which I used to participate has also been necessitated by ongoing serious health problems, which have compelled me to be extremely selective about the kind of time I devote to various activities. Since making these various adjustments in my time, my schedule, and my priorities, I have been feeling more invigorated, both emotionally and intellectually, and ever more productive.

Nevertheless, since JARS has been one of the activities on which I've focused, and since JARS is also the target of much criticism on that particular SOLO-Passion forum noted above, I'd like to make a few general comments in response to the various participants on that thread. I do not intend to engage in any discussion at SOLO-Passion or any other forums for the reasons I have just outlined.

First, Lindsay Perigo and I have had a very long dispute about the character of my work, and I don't expect it will ever be resolved to our mutual satisfaction. That said, however, I don't believe that he has read more than an issue or two of JARS (and, quite frankly, too many JARS critics don't seem to be on our subscription list, so it leaves me wondering how they are able to make such sweeping generalizations about the quality of the scholarship therein). In any event, to dismiss JARS as a haven of "pomo-wankers" is, I think, a slap in the face to so many writers who have graced our pages, including such people as Erika Holzer, George Reisman, Larry Sechrest, Kirsti Minsaas, Mimi Gladstein, Tibor Machan, Douglas Rasmussen, Eric Mack, Marsha Enright, John Enright, John Hospers, Adam Reed, Stephen Hicks, Fred Seddon, Lester Hunt, Ari Armstrong, Edward Younkins, Robert White, and so many others. Dare I say it, but many of these writers have appeared in the pages of The Free Radical, and have been published on SOLO. And last I saw, there was no explosion of "pomo-wanking" going on at SOLO.

Second, with regard to Diana Hsieh's criticisms of JARS: Over time, it has become very clear to readers that I have had some very serious disagreements with Diana, someone to whom I once acted as a mentor of sorts. Diana is now participating regularly at SOLO-Passion; she also runs the Noodlefood blog. Diana remarked at SOLO that she had promised not to comment "on The Russian Radical or the scholarship in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ... steer[ing] clear of such criticisms out of consideration for [her] past friendship [with me]." But I think anybody with half a brain could see the fundamental differences that have emerged between Diana and me on many, many significant questions. As my mother used to say: You'd have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid not to know where those differences lie. Diana and I do not have to spend hours upon hours doing a point-counterpoint in order to articulate those differences.

Because I am so focused on my own work at this time, I have taken a very laissez-faire attitude toward all this. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time engaging my interlocutors. But I've learned that there is only so much that one can say in any given context. Ultimately, my work speaks for itself. It is published in books, articles, encyclopedias, and journals. Much of it is accessible on the web as well. Form your own conclusions, go your own way, do your own thing. If I spent my time answering every criticism or every comment on my work, I'd not have enough time to breathe, let alone research, write, and edit.

Finally, for those who wonder, like Phil Coates, whether JARS articles are generally available: We do hope to get many of these articles online over the course of time, but some are already linked from the JARS site. Just go to any particular indexed issue and click into any hyperlinked title. (I should add that all of JARS' contributors have the right to make their articles available on any website or as a reprint in any anthology.)

Our institutional subscriptions are climbing, as are our individual subscriptions, both domestically and globally. And we are now indexed by over a dozen abstracting services in the humanities and social sciences, including three new additions, which had been very resistant to placing JARS in their indices. See here for more information.

Well, that's all for now.

Comments welcome.

March 16, 2006

Anthem on Mike Music Radio

Readers of Notablog are surely aware that I have a profound love for film scores. It is therefore no surprise that I'd recommend to your attention the weblog of the immensely talented composer Michael G. Shapiro. It's MikeMusic Radio, and it routinely movesand entertains. My biggest problem is that I've been unable to come up with a short list of recorded compositions for Mike to send me. At the very least, however, let me highly recommend Mike's most recent series of posted cues. They center on the audiobook series for Ayn Rand's work, Anthem. Check it out:

The Golden One

Second Meeting

Light

The Interrogation

The Forest

The Reunion

"I"

The Word

But please do yourselves a favor... look through all of Mike's cue archives. This Anthem material is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg!

Bravo, Mike! And keep the cues comin'!

Comments welcome.

February 25, 2006

Winter Olympics and More

Readers may have noticed that I'm doing a lot of singing and music-listening on the blog over the past couple of weeks. I just haven't had as much time to blog, even though there have been quite a few issues I'd like to write about. The upcoming Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Spring issue has been taking up a lot of my time during the day, and will continue to occupy me through the month of March. In the evening, I've been catching up on my reading, and enjoying the XX Winter Olympics (which has compelled me to tape a few of the TV series I watch on a regular basis ... so I'm behind on a number of programs...).

I have really enjoyed the skiing and the aerials, ice hockey, speed skating, snowboarding, and figure skating too (though I was rather disappointed that Sasha Cohen failed to get the gold). Last night, the figure skaters treated us to the Exhibition Gala; I have to say that I was most impressed with, and moved by, the interpretive piece performed by Johnny Weir to Frank Sinatra's rendition of "My Way." If ever there were a song perfect for a specific figure skater, this was it. Too much grace is sacrificed during the competitions in the quest to achieve technical points. Weir was among those who reminded us of just how graceful and beautiful this sport can be.

I'll have some things to say about current events in the coming days and weeks.

Comments welcome.

February 08, 2006

Bradford Tribute in Liberty

As readers of Notablog know, Bill Bradford passed away on December 8, 2005.

In the March 2006 issue of Liberty, there is a lovely tribute to the man, with contributions from Stephen Cox, Ross Overbeek, Doug Casey, Jo Ann Skousen, Mark Skousen, Wendy McElroy, Patrick Quealy, Brian Doherty, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, Robert Higgs, Paul Rako, Andrew Ferguson, Timothy Sandefur, Jane S. Shaw, Randal O'Toole, and Tim Slagle.

My own piece, "Ayn Rand and Coney Island," also appears therein. I will publish that piece on my blog in its slightly altered version when it appears in the forthcoming Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, of which Bill Bradford was a founding co-editor.

Take a look here at some of the current pieces of remembrance in Liberty.

Comments welcome.

February 04, 2006

Jack Criss Aims Right

I have been working very hard on catching up with my reading and have had Jack Criss's book, Ready, Aim, Right! Editorials, Essays and Reviews, 1990-2004, sitting by the side of my computer waiting for a mini-review for much too long.

As discussions of "left-libertarianism" and "right libertarianism" proceed, I found it of interest that Criss discusses his own "odyssey" from "Marx, Ginsberg, Siddhartha, long hair and 'Rock Against Reagan' ... to Ayn Rand, Aristotle, Ludwig von Mises, Voltaire and business meetings," as he puts it in the Preface of his book. He praises "laissez-faire, individual freedom, high culture"values "most often identified with the Right," while having no sympathy for the Libertarian Party (though he clearly agrees with the LP's core principles and "party message").

All this seems pretty "Right-wing" to me, including some of his stances on the current war.

But Criss is no traditional conservative. As he wrote back in 1995:

Put up your Playboys and hide the liquor in the cabinet. They're at it again. I mean, of course, the Grand Ol' Party and their rather empty banter about family values. Emptycontent of ideas certainly has precious little to do with legislation in Washingtonbut potentially liberty-threatening. ... These men honestly seem intent on somehow defining a very intimate sphere of human existence as they see fit, and then enacting legislation to see that their definition is enforced. At best, this is amusing. At worst, it is moral totalitarianism. ...
Liberals interfered with families with the Great Soceity of the sixties and it got us to where we are today. ... But conservatives now wish to intervene again with government programs to cure what government botched in the first place. It won't work. It shouldn't even be considered as a viable option. Government already dictates entirely too much of what we can and cannot do in our economic lives; to allow the behemoth to enter our homes and regulate our most private and cherished institution is equally evil and should not be tolerated.

Dems fightin' words. In fact, Criss has a fightin' style to his writing: very colorful and very entertaining. Even when you disagree with him on any specific issue, you marvel at his way with words.

The book is not all politics, however; I was most enchanted by his various musings on his personal life. A tribute to his father and his reflections on becoming a father offer the most poignant moments in the book.

All in all: A very enjoyable read.

Comments welcome.

February 02, 2006

The Kings of Nonviolent Resistance

It is no longer news that Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., passed away this week. She was 78.

An advocate and practitioner of nonviolent resistance, Martin Luther King Jr. once uttered a classic statement: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

While a lot of discussion has ensued over the nature of the "love thine enemy" philosophy that seems to underlie King's statement, I think there is a truth therein, which was made even more apparent by King's wife. Coretta Scott King often repeated her husband's maxim: "Hate is too great a burden to bear." But she added: "It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

I've talked about the effects of hating in other posts dealing with everything from Yoda to my articulation of "The Rose Petal Assumption," so I won't repeat my reasoning here. Suffice it to say, there is an internal relationship between hatred, fear, anger, and suffering, and, often, the transcendence of one brings forth the transcendence of all.

I think what the Kings focused on was not "loving one's enemy" per se, but the practice of a positive alternative in one's opposition to evil. Nonviolent resistance is not equivalent to pacifism. It is not the renunciation of the retaliatory use of force; it entails, instead, the practice of a wide variety of strategiesfrom boycotts to strikes, which remove all sanctions of one's own victimization. One refuses to be a part of a cycle that replaces one "boss" with another. One repudiates real-world monsters, while not becoming one in the process. For as Nietzsche once said: "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

Nonviolence is not a social panacea, and sometimes it is absolutely necessary to use violence in one's response to aggression. But much can be learned about how to topple tyranny from the lessons provided by the theoreticians and practitioners of nonviolent resistance.

It's fitting that today I've marked Ayn Rand's birthday, for Atlas Shrugged is one of the grandest dramatizations in fiction of the effectiveness of fighting tyranny through nonviolent resistance. It is no coincidence that, while writing her magnum opus, Rand's working title for Atlas was "The Strike." Of course, Rand was no theorist of nonviolence, but her novel is instructive.

For further reading on the subject of nonviolence, let me suggest first and foremost the books of Gene Sharp, founder of the Albert Einstein Institution. See especially Sharp's books, The Politics of Nonviolent Action and Social Power and Political Freedom.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

Ayn Rand: Centenary Plus One

Having written quite a bit in celebration of the Ayn Rand Centenary last year, there is not much I can add this year, except to note a few very provocative posts on Rand published by my colleagues, Roderick Long and Sheldon Richman. At L&P, Roderick writes of "Ayn Rand's Left-Libertarian Legacy," and at "Free Association," Sheldon discusses Rand here and here. Both cite my own article on Rand's radicalism as applied to the realm of foreign policy: "Understanding the Global Crisis: Reclaiming Rand's Radical Legacy" (PDF version).

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the points therein made, I think it is terrific that more and more people are grappling critically with Rand's legacy, and practicing that Spanish proverb that Rand and her associates uttered on more than one occasion: "Take what you want, and pay for it"... that is, in this context, acknowledge what you've learned from Rand, and take responsibility for your own integrations and conclusions.

It's one of the chief means by which ideas filter throughout an intellectual culture.

Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand!

Comments welcome.

January 27, 2006

Wonderful News for JARS

When The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was first published in the Fall of 1999, its Founding Editors (Bill Bradford, Stephen Cox, and some guy named Chris Matthew Sciabarra) and its Board of Advisors knew that we had our work cut out for us. We were the first interdisciplinary scholarly periodical ever established as a forum for the critical discussion of Ayn Rand's ideas. As we state in our credo, JARS is ...

A nonpartisan journal devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times. The journal is not aligned with any advocacy group, institute, or person. It welcomes papers from every discipline and from a variety of interpretive and critical perspectives. It aims to foster scholarly dialogue through a respectful exchange of ideas. The journal is published semi-annually, in the fall and the spring.

One of the most important achievements of any academic journal is its ability to be added to the indices of established abstracting services. This is a way of bolstering a journal's reputation as a serious organ of scholarly discussion, while contributing to the acceptance of that journal's subject matter as worthy of such discussion.

In its first few years of operation, JARS was able to add over a dozen of these services, including: CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, IBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), IBZ (International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, International Political Science Abstracts, The Left Index, The Philosopher's Index, MLA International Bibliography, MLA Directory of Periodicals, Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and Women's Studies International.

Coverage in such indices facilitates the expansion of JARS citations, and, by consequence, Ayn Rand references, within the global marketplace of academic scholarship.

This has a two-fold benefit: First, it means that the works of those who write for JARS are being made readily available as resources for future Rand scholarship. As citations to JARS articles expand in the scholarly literature, more and more scholars will find these references for use in their own work.

Second, it means that JARS will continue to attract established scholars who seek to write about Rand in journals that are reputable, and, thus, fully indexed and abstracted by services used by their fellow academics in various fields of concentration.

Though we have had success in expanding our reach in scholarly indices, it has been an uphill battle to get JARS added to three of the most prestigious of indices: the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Current Contents/Arts & Humanities, and the Social Sciences Citation Index.

In fact, some years ago, we approached those organizations of Thomson Scientific with the requisite three consecutive issues in the hopes that they would add JARS to their lists of the world's leading journals. The first three-issue review failed; JARS was still too young to join the global ranks.

As time passed, we decided to submit JARS for a second hearing at Thomson Scientific. The review process is a profoundly rigorous one. Yet, having failed to achieve our goals the first time around, we were confident that the journal's timely publication and improved quality would facilitate its acceptance in a second evaluation.

Today, I am proud to announce that the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has been selected as a new addition to three of the most prestigious indices in the international community of scholars.

o The journal will be fully abstracted and indexed by the Arts & Humanities Citation Index:

The Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI ) and Arts & Humanities Search provide access to current and retrospective bibliographic information and cited references found in nearly 1,130 of the world's leading arts & humanities journals. They also cover individually selected, relevant items from approximately 7,000 of the world's leading science and social sciences journals.

o The journal will be fully abstracted and indexed by Current Contents/Arts & Humanities:

Current Contents / Arts & Humanities provides access to complete bibliographic information from articles, editorials, meeting abstracts, commentaries, and all other significant items in recently published editions of over 1,120 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals and books from a broad range of categories.

o And, finally, abstracts of relevant journal articles centered on the social sciences (economics, political science, psychology, etc.) will be selectively included in the Social Sciences Citation Index:

The Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and Social SciSearch provide access to current and retrospective bibliographic information, author abstracts, and cited references found in over 1,700 of the world's leading scholarly social sciences journals covering more than 50 disciplines. They also cover individually selected, relevant items from approximately 3,300 of the world's leading science and technology journals.

It will take a few months for the journal's contents to begin appearing in these high quality indices, but JARS will soon be included in their databases. The journal coverage begins with Volume 6, No. 2, the Spring 2005 issue.

I am utterly delighted by this wonderful news.

FYI: Our forthcoming issue, which will include a symposium on Ayn Rand's ethics, will be published in the late Spring.

Comments welcome. Also cited by The Atlasphere.

January 26, 2006

I Get Letters ...

Michael ("Mick") Russell (who has left comments on Notablog before) wrote me a personal email the other day, and I asked him for permission to reproduce it, in partnot because he was so complimentary, but because I thought he raised an issue of general interest:

Dear Chris,
Thank you for your wonderful site. And for your respect. I am a former socialist, seeking a new and improved way to change the world, for the better, of course. I have recently read Ayn Rand's We The Living. It confirmed the obvious (now) for me: collectivism is morally bankrupt and utterly wrong. I now totally reject socialism. Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism fascinates me.
But I must confess to being intimidated by its study. Leonard Peikoff? David Kelley? The split with the Brandens? Of all the Objectivist, or Neo-Objectivist blogs, I find yours to be the freest and most respectful of dissent. And I loved Blondie. My condolences.
Does my past association with MarxismI was a member of the Young Socialist Alliance and The Socialist Workers Partypreclude me from any activity within the Objectivist movement? I am an Atheist; not only do I reject God, I don't believe Ayn Rand is God. She was a brilliant but fallible mind. Am I an apostate before I even join the movement? I try to engage but am usually rejected by various pro-Objectivist blogs. I guess I'm a libertarian. I just want to further my mind and advance the cause of freedom. Any suggestions? Mick

I'll include here my answer to Mick, with a few additions too.

My first suggestion is that you do not worry about joining any "movements"; virtually all organized movements have their pitfalls, and it's not my intention here to list those that have been manifested throughout the history of "Objectivism."

My second suggestion is that you spend time actually reading Ayn Rand's work. Instead of navigating through all the conflicts within the "movement," you should focus on the ideas, and then, once you've read and digested Rand's work, I strongly suggest moving on to works written by those who were influenced by her (Nathaniel Branden, Leonard Peikoff, David Kelley, etc.), followed by works in the secondary literature.

Of course, as part of that secondary literature, I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest that at some point you might actually want to read my own book on Rand: Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (as well as other Rand-related books and journals with which I've been involved).

Whatever his other criticisms of my book, the late Ronald Merrill once called Russian Radical, "Objectivism for Marxists." I don't agree with Merrill's reasoning behind that quipthat I packaged Rand's work in the "language" of the left to make it accessible to the academic community. In fact, it was my belief then, and it is my belief now, that the "language" of dialectics was usefully employed because it captured something important in Rand's work, while enabling me to challenge the left's monopoly on an eminently radical methodology. It was not a marketing decision; it was an intellectual and theoretical choice that I made based on my view that it was a correct identification.

But if you began on the left, my work may, in fact, be something that helps you to situate Rand in the broader context of radical thinking.

As a supplement to your reading on Rand, let me make a third suggestion: Don't narrow your focus to all things Rand. If you're genuinely interested in libertarianism, let me also recommend all the works that I list here, which certainly made a huge impact on my own development.

Finally, I have to cite two essays: the first, published on the Lew Rockwell site back in 2002, entitled "How I Became a Libertarian"; the second, entitled "Taking It Personally" (PDF version). Both mention my interactions with the Young Socialist Alliance when I was in high school. I was a bit more conservative back in those days, but here's the relevant paragraph from the latter essay that should make you chuckle:

I had been an outspoken political type in high school, involved in some rather contentious battles with the Young Socialists of America who had plastered the schools hallways with their obscene propaganda. I had begun writing for Gadfly, the social studies newspaper, and had taken to quoting Ronald Reagan on the perils of central planning. I knew that I "arrived" as a political commentator when I walked into a school bathroom one afternoon to find a copy of one of my anti-socialist articlessitting, rather wet, in the urinal. Though Id heard of "yellow journalism," the article seemed to have been saved from discoloration because it had already been printed on goldenrod mimeograph paper. A small victory, that.

In any event, I hope you enjoy your new reading adventures; please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, and I hope you'll feel free to comment here as well.

Comments welcome.

Not-a-Blog-ing

I've often told friends and correspondents that I am not a blogger. I am a writer and an editor who happens to blog occasionally. Even the name of this blog was born of a belief that it was "Not A Blog," though it has quite clearly evolved into one. It was for that reason that I altered the name of the blog subtly, some time ago, closing the spaces in its title and proclaiming it "Notablog."

I know there are many bloggers out there who comment on the events of the day ... sometimes on the events of the hour ... quite regularly. But I must admit that this sort of thing never truly interested me. How many times can I fulminate over this or that trend in domestic politics or foreign policy? How many times can I express my disgust with the Bush administration, while having equal animosity toward its Democratic "opponents"? How many times can I repeat the mantra that cultural change is a precursor to fundamental political change and that, for example, when you embrace democracy without certain cultural preconditions, you get majoritarian results in the Middle East that empower and legitimize theocratic, fundamentalist, and/or militant forces?

And so on, and so on ...

Though I don't post daily discussions on fiery political topics and substantive philosophical and ideological issues, I just don't see the usefulness of repeating myself over and over and over again about the same stuff day-in, day-out. And if I did, I'd get no other work done!

So, in its place, you get a "Song of the Day," that has run daily since September 1, 2004, except when I dimmed the lights for three days after my dog Blondie's passing. Yeah, you still get my thoughts on radical politics and my occasional fulminations, you still get articles and announcements, but, to paraphrase Emma Goldman: If I can't dance or sing, I want no part of the revolution.

Though I love engagement and participating in dialogue, I am curiously autocratic where my "Songs of the Day" are concerned: I continue the policy of closing those selections to all discussion because my choices are not up for debate. Yes, I can enjoy discussing the historical background of a song and the virtues or vices of a particular rendition, or even a particular artist or composer, and I do welcome private notes from Notablog readers on such topics. But I think it would be terribly counterproductive and awfully time-consuming to engage in a constant public reaffirmation of my musical tastes, which are quite eclectic, as Notablog readers regularly note. (They match my intellectual tastes, which are equally eclectic, since I've learned from the left, right, and center...) So, if you don't like my songs, or a particular song, fine. Get your own blog and make your own list! :)

In the meanwhile, if you don't see any non-Song entry posted on a given day, be sure to check out the lively comments pages. For example, the discussion of "Brokeback Mountain" continues, and should pick up steam as we enter Oscar season. I welcome additional comments on this and on any other subject open to reader input.

I should also state that I get lots of private email and I do answer every letter I receive. It may take me time, but I get to every note. And many of those emails are worthy of longer blog posts. But I treat private correspondence as personal, and unless I ask permission, readers won't see their private thoughts on public display here.

Occasionally, however, I get an email whose topic might benefit readers more generally. I hope to publish a few of these correspondences soon enough, including one later today on Rand studies.

So, for now, I just want to thank all of you for your loyal readership and your continuing personal support.

Comments welcome.

January 19, 2006

The New Individualist and More News

Continuing with new announcements, I received the newest issue of The New Individualist, a publication of The Objectivist Center, which recently debuted a newly designed website. Lots of news in that sentence!

In any event, I enjoyed the magazine quite a bit and was impressed with the fact that it seeks to broaden its audience, publishing provocative essays by Objectivists and non-Objectivists alike.

I like the fact that there are many different publications in the growing Randian universe, each with its own character, and I read many of these periodicals regularly: The Intellectual Activist, Impact, Free Radical, etc. I don't agree with everything I read, but that's not the point. The more important point is that Rand's work has inspired not a static intellectual monolith, but a dynamic, ever-differentiating marketplace of ideas.

Speaking of periodicals, I'm currently working on the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, which will include a multilayered discussion of Ayn Rand's ethics. It will be published in the late Spring. I'll have more to say about that issue soon enough.

Comments welcome.

January 12, 2006

Blondie: 1989-2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

Blondie: July 6, 1989 - January 12, 2006

I'm heartbroken.

Update, January 16, 2006: In the comments section, here, I have responded at length to the many lovely public and private condolences that I've received since Blondie's death. My deepest appreciation and gratitude to each of you for your support.

Update, January 19, 2006: I have responded to additional comments posted by Notablog readers here.

January 05, 2006

International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology: Libertarianism

As I mentioned here and here, I wrote an entry on "libertarianism" for the International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology. The entry surveys those who have contributed to a libertarian "sociology," thinkers such as Herbert Spencer, Carl Menger, F. A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Ayn Rand.

I am pleased, today, to publish that entry, with permission from Routledge, on my website:

"Libertarianism"

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P and the Mises Economics Blog.

December 22, 2005

ARI, Iraq, and Healthy Dissent

I received a note from my pal Chip Gibbons, who runs The Binary Circumstance. His post, "Ayn Rand: The Roots of War," which I applauded back in May 2004, has inspired a recent exchange. A voicer there states that Chip was being unfair in his criticism of the Ayn Rand Institute as an organization in favor of the war in Iraq. The writer states that "ARI scholars repeatedly and consistently attack the war in Iraqfrom Leonard Peikoff, whose essay 'Iraq: The Wrong War' is available on-line, to Yaron Brook who has lectured both on the morality of war in general and the immorality of US involvement in Iraq and of the neo-con position in general..." The voicer believes that only The Intellectual Activist has been "mildly pro-Iraq War" and has been "subjected ... to some heavy criticism of late."

Chip responds to the voicer, stating that he published this piece 18 months ago, and that even the commentators back then observed the pro-Iraq war stance of the ARI-affiliated writers of whom he spoke. (He notes too that ARI had even displayed the Israeli flag on its site back then.) But Chip is clearly encouraged by any change in opinion at this point.

In actuality, many ARI-affiliated writers have claimed that Iran was the country to attack, but, early on, they fully supported the war to topple Saddam Hussein as a way-station to get to Syria and Iran. (Yaron Brook's recent lectures on neoconservatism and Iraq, notwithstanding, he too favors military action against Iran.) The chorus of boos against the neocons is something, however, that is a bit more recent in ARI ranks. To my knowledge, those boos were not articulated anywhere on the ARI site in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

To his credit, Leonard Peikoff has been the most critical of that war (but please note that the cited criticism of Iraq as the "wrong war" is an article he published in 1997 against the Clinton administration ... not anything he said in the immediate aftermath of 9/11). Peikoff has also been intensely critical of Bush, and, in my view, his repudiation of Bush's religious agenda is right-on-target.

Still, pre-Iraq war articles on the ARI site certainly advocated invading Iraq (a useful compendium of quotes can be found here, whether one agrees or disagrees with the overall thrust of the site on which it is published). For example, see an essay by Peter Schwartz, entitled "War and Morality."

To his credit, Schwartz has been critical of "nation-building," but he did support the invasion of Iraq. My critique of him is indexed here, and my discussion of Schwartz's position on the Iraq war can be found here.

Also see Robert Tracinski's essay: "The Iraq Charade." The voicer at Chip's place is correct that Tracinski's Intellectual Activist has been the most vocal ARIan proponent of the war in Iraq. Tracinski's magazine, in fact, published "The Case Against Iraq" in October 2002, written by Christian Beenfeldt. Beenfeldt wrote that "it is either war against Iraq or continued passivity. A successful campaign against Iraq could serve as a model of American unilateralism and preemptive response, thus becoming a stepping-stone for future actions against Iran and other states. We must make war against Iraq as a next step in a full campaign to eradicate the long line of regimes that want to destroy the West."

In May 2003, Tracinski himself applauded the war: "The war in Iraq is over. The only resistance that remains, as this issue goes to press, is a series of sniper and grenade attacks from isolated bands of fighters ..." And he too saw it as a stepping stone to Syria, Iran, etc.

And in the June 2003 issue of TIA, Tracinski also applauds the President for seeing this as merely one "battle" in a larger war, and he argues that "'nation-building' can be a legitimate task of our militaryif it is in America's interest. In the case of Iraq, it is clearly in our interests to ensure that, having overthrown one dangerous totalitarian regime, we do not allow another to replace it. And more: a pro-liberty, pro-American government in Iraq can serve as a strategic base from which to threaten neighboring regimes in Iran and Syriaand as an oil-rich ally to use as diplomatic and economic leverage against the corrupt Saudis. To achieve these benefits, America must remain in Iraq, using our military to help create and support a better Iraqi government, rather than hastily withdrawing and allowing others to fill the power vacuum."

I'd say that view is pretty much in-line with on-the-record and off-the-record Bush administration strategic statements on the war.

Now, it is entirely true and must be acknowledged that many articles written by ARI-affiliated writers after the war became increasingly critical of the Iraq policythank goodness. Readers can trace that development here. I, myself, have cited some of those articles approvingly, including Elan Journo's essay.

I'd like to think that people such as Chip, Arthur Silber, me, and others played a part in persuading some of Rand's latter-day followers of the problems inherent in the pro-Iraq war position, but I see no explicit indication or citation of anything any of us wrote at that time or since.

In light of all this, I do believe that it is incorrect to use a broad stroke in painting all ARI-affiliated writers as pro-Iraq war. I think it is a sign of healthy dissent that many writers affiliated with ARI are disagreeing with one another on these important issues of war and peace. There is no ARI ideological monolith on this question, and this is good.

This is not to say that problems don't exist in the views of some writers affiliated with ARI, TOC, or any number of Objectivist organizations. I conclude this post with a lengthy passage from my article, "Understanding the Global Crisis: Reclaiming Rand's Radical Legacy." That article was written in March 2003, and published in May-June 2003 in The Free Radical. I stand by every last word:

The response of Objectivists to the prospect of this kind of U.S. occupation [of Iraq[ has been mostly positive (with a few notable exceptions, e.g., Arthur Silber at The Light of Reason). Robert Tracinski, for example, rightfully criticizes the pragmatism and religiosity of the Bush administration, which pays no attention to "context or history" ("The Era of Muddling Through: How We Got Here and Why We're Still Moving," TIA, March 2003). But this does not stop Tracinski from applauding Bush for "a breathtakingly new grand strategy to remake the Middle East," a policy that Tracinski admits "is a kind of indirect colonialism. The colonial administrators will be the nominally independent leaders of Middle Eastern countriesbut the essence of their form of government and their foreign policy will be inspired or imposed by the United States of America." Deriding the muddling ways of "Old Europe," Tracinski suggests approval of the U.S. ambition "to remake the world, sweeping aside hostile regimes and securing America's safety" ("New Hollywood and Old Europe," TIA, March 2003).
William Thomas writes ("What Warrants War? The Challenge of Iraq and North Korea") that "[t]he Objectivist view of foreign policy derives from its view of morality. Just as each person should pursue his rational self-interest in his personal matters, so should a proper government uphold the interests of its citizens in its conduct toward other nations." Thomas goes on to say that it is a "basic tenet" of "Objectivist political philosophy . . . that the only just governments are the free countriesand all the free countries are natural allies. Free countries are those that essentially embrace the principles of liberty, including freedoms of speech and assembly, competitive elections, the rule of law, and property rights." In Thomas's well-reasoned discussion of principles, the New Fascism is never mentioned. And though he admits that certain foreign policy goals require us "to hold our noses" when entering into "alliance[s] of convenience" with less free countries, he does not seem to appreciate the extent to which such pragmatic considerations have brought the globe to the current crisis.
In the end, however, Thomas supported the war in Iraqand a possible war with North Korea as well. He sees the post-war reconstruction as a requirement, "the only means of eliminating the longer-term threat." Keeping the peace, funding our allies, and building a free Iraq, will require "billions upon billions of dollars . . . for reconstruction and re-education." Reconstruction? Re-education? Funding our allies? I am tempted to ask the perennial Randian question: At whose expense?
To his credit, Thomas recognizes that "if it is culturally or financially infeasible to transform . . . enemies into alliesor at least into stable, non-threatening regimes, then war will not resolve the longer-term threat . . ." To his credit, Thomas accepts the possibility that U.S. occupation might "fuel anti-Americanism throughout the region." To his credit, Thomas understands "that political policy is a symptom, but culture is the root cause." Still, he supports the risk of war and a long-term occupation that empowers "better educated" and "more secular" Iraqis, so as to "cement the transformation" of other Middle Eastern nations.
To "cement the transformation" is [ARI-affiliated writer] Ron Pisaturo's goal as well. Except that he offers a much more robust strategy. Writing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster, Pisaturo is an unabashed Objectivist advocate of a new U.S. colonialism ("Why and How to Conquer the Savages," Capitalism Magazine).
Pisaturo begins on the correct premisethat Americans have the right to defend themselves from murderous attacks. But he goes further: He urges the creation of a new Middle East as if from a state of nature; his regional tabula rasa, however, requires the "nuclear" incineration of millions of "savages" in order to start from scratch. Pisaturo stands, like Archimedes, outside the context he wishes to reconstruct. His canvas-cleaning strategy is the logically horrific conclusion and destructive essence of his utopianism. It applies literally to 'no-where' on earththough, in all fairness, the Brave No-World of Ron Pisaturo is far more dystopian than it is utopian.
According to Pisaturo, the U.S. must crush all the "evil governments" of the Middle East (e.g., Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other "murderous regimes"). This is a sentiment shared by his Ayn Rand Institute colleagues, including Yaron Brook (ARI Media, 10 April 2003) and Leonard Peikoff ("America versus Americans," Ford Hall Forum, 7 April 2003)both of whom see Iran as the next target in the war against Islamic fundamentalism. Pisaturo argues that the U.S. government must take back the oil fields for Western oil companies, appropriate Arab assets worldwide (including "real estate, bank accounts, and all other financial holdings"), and "isolate, colonize, and settle the lands the savages now roam." Sensing perhaps that such a proposal for massive colonization of the region might entail an exponential increase in U.S. tax rates and in the size of the U.S. militaryperhaps even necessitating conscriptionPisaturo declares that if the Western oil companies "agree to pay the cost of waging this war," then the U.S. government could continue "occupying and defending these oil-rich territories." Once the U.S. has seized the Middle EastI suppose after several years of waiting for the nuclear fallout to settleit will allow American pioneers to enter the region as international homesteaders. "Over time, pioneers, with the paid support of our military, can go into these isolated territories, subdue the remaining savages, install a civilized, colonial government protecting the rights of both the pioneers and the savages, and settle the landas American pioneers subdued the savage, murderous American Indian tribes and settled America." Of course, the "savages" will eventually realize that they will be the "most fortunate beneficiaries" of such colonialism.
In truth, Pisaturo's view of the Arab world finds inspiration in Rand's own condemnation of Arab terrorists as "savages" (on "The Phil Donahue Show"). She saw the "Arab whose teeth are green with decay in his mouth" ("The Left: Old and New") as living "a nomadic, anti-industrial form of existence" ("Requiem for Man"). But this is a far cry from Pisaturo's genocidal call for an American Lebensraum.
I submit that this "cure" is far worse than the disease.
Let's analyze Pisaturo's proposal more closely. The Western oil companies whose interests Pisaturo wishes to defend are the same Western oil companies that collaborated with the U.S. government and Middle Eastern governments to develop the oil fields. The U.S. government socialized much of their risk, and replaced the colonizing British as the chief power in the region. From the 1920s through World War II and beyond, the government and the oil industry worked hand-in-hand to win concessions from, and bolster the power of, various "pro-Western" Arab regimes, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan, trying to create stability with money, munitions, and political machinations (see Sheldon Richman's "'Ancient History': U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention"; ed: also see my discussion here). The "pull-peddling" between the oil industry and the various governments was a quintessential expression of the New Fascism. (Rand did not examine these oil industry-government ties; but she did believe, ironically, that U.S. foreign policy had "brought the entire Western world to the position of a colony ruled by Arab sheiks" ["The Energy Crisis, Part II"]).
When a neoconservative defends the ideal of a new U.S. colonialism, I am disgustedbut not surprised. Neoconservatism was foundedas a movementby a group of disaffected socialists and "social democrats." Its modern representatives are now the intellectual architects of U.S. foreign policy. Having given up the fiasco of defending economic central planning, they now embrace global social engineering to bring the ideal of "democracy" to the rest of the world. And if some of them get their wishof establishing a new "American Empire"they'll find out that the pretense of knowledge, which destroyed socialism, will similarly destroy their Wilsonian designs. We simply never know enough to construct or reconstruct, wholesale, social systems and nations from the ground up. (On this point, see especially Hayek's Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Vol. 3, pp. 107109.) Such schemes for a Pax Americana are fraught with endless possibilities for negative unintended consequences, however "noble" the intentions.
So "nation-building" as a neoconservative goal is understandablegiven the socialist lineage of its champions. But when an Objectivist advocates mass murder and U.S. colonialism and supports the oil industry's employment of the government like a mercenary private protection agency to secure its foreign financial and material holdings, it is beyond baffling. These are the same kinds of Objectivists who would accuse the U.S. Libertarian Party of "context-dropping" (in contradistinction to "atomic-bomb-dropping") for wanting to build political solutions on a fragile philosophic and cultural foundation. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Comments welcome.

December 20, 2005

Philosophers of Capitalism

Today, I finally received my copy of a new book edited by Edward W. Younkins, entitled Philosophers of Capitalism: Menger, Mises, Rand, and Beyond.

A New Book with a Sciabarra Contribution

The book features contributions from a number of friends and colleagues, including, of course, Ed Younkins himself, along with Sam Bostaph, Doug Rasmussen, Barry Smith, Walter Block, Richard C. B. Johnson, Larry Sechrest, and Tibor Machan, among others. Some of the articles were previously published; my own is a revised version of a piece I wrote for Philosophical Books, surveying "The Growing Industry in Ayn Rand Scholarship."

Definitely pick it up; some very interesting articles therein. You can order it from LFB or Amazon.com

Update: Check out Neil Parille's review of the anthology here.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.

December 13, 2005

Erika Holzer and Ayn Rand

I had the wonderful pleasure of working closely with writer Erika Holzer when she contributed to a special Fall 2004 centenary symposium, "Ayn Rand: Literary and Cultural Impact," for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Erika's wonderful essay, "Passing the Torch," was "part memoir, part fiction writer's guide, part tribute" to her literary mentor, Ayn Rand.

The good news is that Erika has greatly expanded her work into a full-fledged book, entitled Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing Teacher. I'd written to her upon reading the book with these glorious words of praise:

Damn you, Erika, for taking me away from my work and compelling me, like a man possessed, to read your book from cover to cover. It's humane, dramatic, humorous, touching, terrific on every level. You've written a literary autobiography that is as much a superb guide for fiction writers as it is a touching tribute to your fiction-writing mentor, Ayn Rand. You illustratethrough a tour de force exploration of your own evolving craftthe many important factors at work in the creative process.
This brilliant memoir offers a significant contribution to Rand studies, intellectual history, and literary theory.

Readers should check out the book cover, the table of contents, a sample chapter, and the book's other endorsements. And then get thee to amazon.com and purchase it!

A fine work!

Comments welcome.

December 06, 2005

Rand Criticism, Again

Lots of people have emailed me, wondering about my opinion of the recent article on Ayn Rand, entitled "As Astonishing As Elvis," written by Jenny Turner, which appears in The London Review of Books.

I don't have much to say about the article; a full response would require an article of equal length, just to rebut all the arguable misinterpretations and misstatements therein.

For example, at one point, Turner makes the following statement:

Sometimes, she wore a mink coat to deliver her speeches, paid for with compensation received from the Italian wartime government (the Fascisti had liked We the Living so much they had filmed it, without Rands say-so).

Well, yes, Rand did receive royalties from the Italian government because of the unauthorized filming of We the Living, but Turner neglects to mention the fact that the film, which was initially green-lighted by the Fascisti for its anti-communism, was eventually pulled because people were responding positively to its individualism and anti-statism... two political "no-no's." Why not mention this? I suppose it is just a lot easier to leave the reader with the distorted implication that the Fascists and Rand had an ideological affinity.

I could go on and on, but there's not much that I'll say here that I haven't already said here and elsewhere.

I had a few brief email exchanges with Turner while she prepared her article. She had contacted me strictly with regard to an essay written by Slavoj Zizek, which appeared in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. As it turns out, it is because of that Zizek essay that JARS got a brief mention in Turner's article. (Even that mention contains an implicit error. Turner states: "A peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, was founded in 1999, and continues to run out of New York University..." In actuality, I am a Visiting Scholar at NYU, but the journal is not run out of New York University, and has no affiliation whatsoever with the University.)

Interestingly, while Turner mentions briefly Zizek's postmodernist critique of Rand's politics, she fails to mention Zizek's admiration for Rand's portrait of human authenticity in The Fountainhead or his admiration for the way in which Rand herself handled her Affair with Nathaniel Branden (an episode on which Turner focuses as well). I pointed out here Zizek's own words on this subject: "Rand did not cheat. ... To show such firmness in the most intimate domain bears witness to an ethical stance of extraordinary strength: while Rand was here arguably 'immoral' [in the conventional sense, a reference to the extramarital affair], she was ethical in the most profound meaning of the word. It is this ethical stance of inner freedom that accounts for the authenticity clearly discernible in Rand's description of ... Howard Roark."

As I have already stated:

[I]t's fairly typical that discussions of Rand end up becoming discussions of Rand's life. In these instances, however, biography doesn't supplement a discussion of ideas; it often supplants that discussion entirely. Even the New York Times, which has reviewed many Rand works, has never actually reviewed any books about Rand, unless those books are of a biographical character. Reading the Times, one would not even know that there is a growing secondary literature, a veritable industry, of scholarship focused on Rand's ideas.

Well, in all fairness, it should be pointed out that Turner does focus on Rand's ideas, but Rand's philosophy is presented as a stick-figure caricature of itself. And while Turner mentions that books on Rand are being published, the springboard for her essay is Jeff Britting's mini-biography on Rand, a handsome little book, but not one focused on Rand's ideas primarily. Indeed, no books in the vast and growing body of scholarly literature on Rand's ideas are examined in Turner's article, just as they are never mentioned in the New York Times Book Review or the New York Review of Books or anywhere else in the mainstream press.

But that scholarship continues to be published by university and trade presses alike, by organizations, institutions, periodicals, and individuals with vastly different perspectives on Rand. I am confident that at some point this literature will be given the attention it deserves.

Comments welcome. Noted too at L&P.

December 05, 2005

The Freeman: Dialectics and Liberty

The September 2005 issue of The Freeman includes my essay, "Dialectics and Liberty," which offers an introduction to dialectical method and its role in the works of such writers as F. A. Hayek and Ayn Rand. That essay finally makes its cyber-debut today! Another in a series of essays and interviews on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of my books Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, the article is available as a PDF here:

"Dialectics and Liberty"

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P, with comments here. Also noted at Rational Review.

December 01, 2005

New Sites, New Sights

Readers of Notablog know that SOLO HQ recently closed its doors. Those who try to access SOLO HQ here will now be provided with links to the two new sites that have emerged from the previous incarnation: Rebirth of Reason (run by Joe Rowlands) and SOLO Passion (run by Lindsay Perigo).

I posted welcome messages to each organization here and here, and I was given additional links here and here, given my long association with the former website.

Readers who try to access previous Sciabarra articles can now view these essays with a slight change to the URL addresses. I have made those URL changes to all the web pages on my main site (but not on Notablog). It now appears that my former SOLO HQ essays and posts are available on both sites. I feel as if I've been cloned!

For example, my essay, "Ten Years After" used to be here:

http://solohq.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

It is now accessible here:

http://solohq.solopassion.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

and here:

http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Ten_Years_After.shtml

So, enjoy yourself. Twice.

I'd like to take this opportunity, however, to make a few comments about my own posting activities, which, as some readers have observed, have been much more limited recently. Though I was still posting on a rare occasion at SOLO HQ, my last published article was, in fact, "Ten Years After" (posted on August 14, 2005, and noted above). I have posted very infrequently to that site, and I don't believe I will be posting much to either of the new sites.

I still post on occasion to Liberty and Power Group Blog and the Mises Economics Blog (when the subjects of my posts are relevant to those forums).

Nevertheless, readers need to know that I have scaled back my participation on virtually all cyber-forums due to ongoing constraints on my time and health (see here, for example). Since my surgical procedure in October, I have re-focused my energy on the things that matter most to me: my own work done my own way on my own time.

That's why Notablog is still my home. I will continue to post here as the spirit moves me on subjects as varied as music and foreign policy, and I will cross-post to other forums when I think it is relevant.

Some people have written to me privately and have wondered if the rancor on other forums has been a factor in my unwillingness to participate more regularly. I've never made a secret of the fact that I am not pleased with the level of rudeness and hostility that is often shown on cyber-forums of whatever intellectual orientation (see my comments on "The Rose Petal Assumption," for example).

I'm the last one to complain about vigorous and rigorous debate; as a defender of dialectical method"dialectic" is, after all, derived from "dialegesthai," the Greek word for "to discuss"I am the first person to praise the importance of critical engagement. And for years I've been critically engaging my interlocutors whenever and wherever I get the chance.

But, all too often, discussions in cyberspace have disintegrated into slimefests with open use of ad hominem as a substitute for reasoned discourse.

Suffice it to say: That won't happen here. That doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor or a sense of proportion. But as Ralph Kramden once said: "I'm the King of the Castle" in my own home. I welcome comments here from individuals of any intellectual or political persuasion, and ask only that posters show me and their fellow interlocutors the respect that is required in any civil engagement. If people can't or won't be civil, they can take their cyber-business elsewhere.

It's true: Civility is not a primary virtue. But it is a requirement of participation at Notablog.

So, to all those who post to the new forums and the old ones: Best of luck. I'll see you when I see you.

Comments welcome.

November 28, 2005

So Long, SOLO

The Executive Director of SOLO, Joe Rowlands, informs readers that SOLO HQ is closing up shop and will be morphing into different entities. I posted a farewell note to the forum:

Gentlemen, I wish each of you well in your endeavors. My appreciation for your efforts is deeply personal. I wish to thank you for providing a forum where many of my own articles have appeared, along with much critical engagement. And I also wish to thank you for providing a forum that still sells my monograph on Rand & homosexuality, the first such SOLO monograph ever to be published. For having hosted the kick-off to one of the early SOLO conferences, I am also thankful for having met many good people through this forum.
As one of those who has long been concerned about the preservation of historical archives, I do sincerely hope that there might be a way to preserve the current site, in some form, as a place to which people might return to see the development of that engagement over time. There are some very important discussions here. I do realize that Joe [Rowlands], Linz [Lindsay Perigo], and Jeff [Landauer] do not have an obligation to pay for this archival preservation, but it is still my hope that preservation, in some form, will be given a priority in any transition to something new.
Be well, take good care, and thanks again.

Readers are encouraged to visit the site, and leave comments.

November 27, 2005

More on the International Ayn Rand Award

As I mentioned here, I was the recipient of the first annual International Ayn Rand Award at this year's London conference of the Libertarian Alliance and the Libertarian International.

I suspect that a video version of my acceptance speech will be made available in the near future; for now, however, Dr. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance has posted a Record of Proceedings, at which one will find a link to a low-resolution audio version of my acceptance speech. It is archived here.

I wish to thank Sean Gabb for his efforts and Dr. Chris Tame for his kind words of introduction in presenting the award to me. I also wish to thank William Thomas of The Objectivist Center, for having accepted the award in London on my behalf.

If the video becomes available as a podcast, I'll post the link to Notablog.

Update: I note that Arthur Silber recently reposted his own discussion of my work at his new blog. See his post: "In Praise of Contextual Libertarianism."

Comments welcome.

November 19, 2005

The International Ayn Rand Award

Some time ago, I got a phone call from an ailing Chris Tame, who is both a friend and colleague. Chris told me that he was about to inaugurate the First Annual International Ayn Rand Award, on the occasion of the Rand Centenary; it would be delivered at a special banquet on Saturday, November 19, 2005 (today!) during which annual lifetime "Liberty Awards" would also be presented to such important writers as Richard Ebeling and Norman Barry. (Personally, I have profited enormously from the works of both of these men; in fact, Richard was the very first libertarian I ever saw speak at any public event.)

Chris told me that I was selected as the first recipient of the award. He knew I didn't identify myself as an "Objectivist," but "post-Randian" or not, I was to receive the award for my intense scholarly activities, which have contributed, he said, to the wider dissemination and appreciation of Ayn Rand's work in the academy and beyond.

Here is how Chris described the award:

The International Ayn Rand Award was established by the Libertarian Alliance (based in London) and the Libertarian International (based in Holland) in 2005 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) was born on 2 February, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She escaped Communist tyranny to become a best selling novelist and philosopher and one the principal instigators of the modern libertarian movement, the rebirth of radical individualism and classical liberalism.
In both her novels and her non-fiction works Rand expounded philosophical "Objectivism", a systematic and radical restatement and reconstruction of Aristotelian natural law and natural rights, which provided a firm basis for the case for reason, rationality, science, progress, individual rights and autonomy and free market capitalismfor a New Enlightenment.
The International Ayn Rand Award joins the other annual Liberty Awards bestowed by the Libertarian Alliance and the Libertarian International at their annual London Conference. The Award is specifically created to recognise thinkers and writers whose work has contributed inter alia to the development and systematisation of Objectivism, its application to specific issues and problems, and its propagation and wider understanding.

I have to say that I wasand amdeeply touched by the gesture. But I know that I am only one of many writers who have spent many years in critical engagement with Rand's philosophy.

Some have extended their good wishes, despite expressing a little confusion over my receipt of the award. I can only say that being an "Objectivist" is not, apparently, a requirement for this award. What is a requirement, in my view, however, is an acknowledgment of those whose shoulders I have stood on in my efforts to bring Rand to a wider scholarly audience.

I set out to do precisely that in a brief acceptance speech I recorded prior to my hospitalization on October 18th. I confess I was a tad bit fidgety when my friend Tony came to my home to record my speech. A kidney stone will do that to you. Recording it was a laugh a minute; the phone rang, the doorbell rang, the cuckoo clock cuckooed, and, of course, Blondie barked. We should have sent in the "blooper" reel instead of the 4 or 5 minute talk I actually gave.

But thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we were able to record the speech digitally, and send it off to London, where it will be shown tonight at the Banquet. I will post a follow-up here at Notablog soon enough, with the full text of my speech linked to the Podcast that will be available on the site of the Libertarian Alliance.

I am deeply appreciative for this acknowledgment of my work, especially since this is also the year in which I celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.

And I am very deeply appreciative that Chris Tame, who has been battling a number of health problems, is well enough to attend the conference and to present the award to me. Get well, my friend.

Comments welcome.

November 03, 2005

Jon on Alan Greenspan

I left a comment at "Liberating Our Heritage," on a Jon post: "The Maestro as Manipulator?"

Jon asks about Rand's views of Alan Greenspan, based on Nathaniel Branden's recollections from his memoir, My Years with Ayn Rand. My comment on the man whom Rand called "the undertaker" can be found here.

Comments welcome, but visit Jon's place. Also noted at SOLO HQ.

November 01, 2005

More Passing Thoughts on Rand

I just wanted to alert Notablog readers that I've posted additional appendices to the "Passing Thoughts" thread below. I encourage readers to take a look at these additional postings (listed as Appendix #1, etc.).

Readers wishing to leave additional comments may do so here or on the SOLO HQ thread (my last posting there can be found here).

Update: I asked Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden about the issue of their voices being edited out of tapes still being marketed by the Ayn Rand Institute. Their replies are here.

October 29, 2005

Passing Thoughts on Rand's Journals

Every so often I'm told by this person or that person that I'm being mentioned in the blogosphere. I am honestly and sincerely flattered that so many people think my musings worth mentioning, but it is impossible for me to keep up with the many discussions of my work. If bloggers or other writers wish to inspire me to a response, the best policy is to simply inform me of your writing, and I'll do my best to reply privately or, perhaps, with a public post. The engagement, after all, is the dialectical oil that keeps the blogosphere humming along.

So, recently, somebody informed me of this post by a gent named "Mike" who runs a blog called "Passing Thoughts." (I'd drop you a note Mike, but I don't see any email contact information at your blog.) Mike seems to be quite enamored of the Ayn Rand Institute, and has been engaging in an ongoing critique of ARI critics. One of those whom he criticizes is my friend and colleague Robert Campbell (see here and here). Robert's replies are worthwhile reading (see here and here, for example).

I'm not going to re-open the debate over The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies here. Suffice it to say: If some Rand scholars do not like JARS, they can and should take their business elsewhere. We are a nonpartisan journal and we would gladly publish any articles that pass our double-blind peer review process, and that most definitely includes any articles submitted by those of a more "orthodox" hue. Now in our seventh year of publication, we are abstracted by over a dozen professional indexing services and are doing fine. So while others are indicting the quality of the journal, writers as diverse as Erika Holzer and Bill Martin, George Reisman and Slavoj Zizek, have been represented in our pages.

Nevertheless, I was relieved to discover from Mike's postings that he and his ARI friends "dont have weekly burnings of Chris Sciabarra books (we only do that stuff once per year)."

Whew! At least now when there's a spike in sales of my books at that time of the year, I'll know it's due to some Farenheit 451 Celebration!

In an earlier post at Passing Thoughts, Mike takes me to task with regard to criticisms I once made of both the Estate of Ayn Rand and editor David Harriman on the subject of the editing of the book Journals of Ayn Rand. Those criticisms can be found here and here, where I note, for example, that the name "Albert Jay Nock," which appeared in an earlier publication of an entry from Rand's journals suddenly disappeared from that same entry republished in the Harriman-edited Journals of Ayn Rand.

Mike states:

Now, the first thing to notice for any objective observer is that this criticism can only be leveled at Peikoff and Harriman. They are responsible, not the ARI. Secondly, there is no motivation for intentional dishonesty (why on earth would Peikoff be interested in eliminating Albert Jay Nock from history when there are much worse people cited by Rand that remain in the notes?). So the only explanation that fits the facts is scholarly incompetence. A very bizarre scholarly incompetence. Sciabarra makes the very serious charge: How many other revisions of the historical record are there? Now, this implies that whatever got mixed up was intentional. There is no evidence to support this, so from the outset, Sciabarra is being a jack ass.

Sigh.

If Mike re-reads the essay in question, he'll see that I only mention the Ayn Rand Institute once and not in the context of altering the historical record. I state: "Officials at the Ayn Rand Institute are busy establishing a research archive, but until independent scholars are able to examine Rand's personal papers, serious doubts will remain."

Throughout the essay, my criticisms are of the Estate (i.e., Peikoff) and of Harriman.

Mike goes on:

But a quick look at the date of publication of this article is 1998. Sciabarra should have done his homework. In 1995 Harriman gave a lecture in which he pointed out that, after writing her notes, Rand would RE-WRITE them in a condensed form. This is confirmed by Harry Binswanger (its in his first lecture on psycho-epistemology). So what has been available to all who are interested, since 1995 (at least), is the FACT that there are at least two versions of all of Rands notes.

Alas, I get an F for not doing my homework. When I reviewed the book in question, it didn't occur to me that I'd then have to consult several audio lectures to understand the context of Harriman's editing. Instead, I made the mistake of taking Harriman's preface seriously, wherein he states the following:

AR sometimes rewrote her notes, often for the purpose of condensing and essentializing. I have included such later material only when it contains provocative new formulations.

This statement conflicts with the Binswanger statement that Mike reports on his blog. Harriman stresses that Rand "sometimes rewrote her notes" (emphasis added), not that there are "at least two versions of all of Rands notes." And Harriman stresses further that in such instances of repetition, he uses the earlier version unless the newer one has some "provocative new formulations."

In my comparison of the passages in question in my original 1998 essay, there is nothing "provocative" or "new" in the Journals passage when compared to the same passage, which was published earlier in The Objectivist Forum. The only thing that is "provocative" or "new" is the absence of various words and the name of a key historical figure from the Old Right, Albert Jay Nock.

And if Mike re-reads my essay, he'll also see that I did not utter the word "dishonesty"; he may think that it is implied, but it is not. What is made explicit however is this: When scholars are offered two different versions of the same passage, and the differences are so stark, it makes it very difficult to quote from either version with certainty about its accuracy.

As I stated in my 1998 essay:

When such editorial changes are not made explicit, when not even ellipsis points are provided to indicate missing text, doubt is cast unnecessarily on the volume's authenticity. Even if this does not impugn the book's overall value to critically-minded readers, it makes the serious Rand scholar question the text's accuracy. These questions are generated not by any inherent distrust of the Estate, but by discrepancies in the same passage published in two different sources authorized by the Estate. Which version is accurate? The first? The second? Neither? (emphasis added)

With Mike's newest revelations, drawn from a lecture by Binswanger, we learn "the FACT that there are at least two versions of all of Rands notes." This revelation makes the scholar's task even worse, in my view: Not only are we left guessing which version is being quoted, but with the added proviso that Harriman made certain editorial line-changes, we must now question if one version or the other was used or if both versions were used to supplement one another. With no indication from the editor, it makes an historical reconstruction of Rand's evolution as a thinker that much more difficult.

The only way any scholar can be certain about the chronological contents of Rand's journals, then, is by getting into the Rand Archives and taking a look. But, of course, the odds of a non-ARI scholar getting into those archives are slim. James Valliant is one of those scholars who did get access, but as I said in my review of his book:

His book is one of a very select group of secondary sources actually listed on the ARI site, with links for purchase: "Books About Ayn Rand." Since I personally know reputable scholars who have not been allowed to work in the Archives, and I have had my own failed dealings with ARI in pursuit of certain archival records (see here), I can only applaud Valliant's access, and hope, with him, that the archives will be made more generally available in time.

So, to repeat, this is not an issue of Harriman's or Peikoff's "massive dishonesty." It's an issue of publishing important journal notes in a way that brings into question unnecessarily their accuracy. Whether the alterations were intended or not, or simply the result of what Mike calls "a very bizarre scholarly incompetence," the fact remains that the historical record has been altered, and this is a serious problem.

So, sorry, Mike, if you think I'm no longer the "gentleman," "fair critic," and "scholar" you once thought I was. But until or unless the Institute opens its doors to all bona fide scholars, these questions of authenticity and accuracy will remain. It's not because I "pick and choose" the "evidence ... for [my] evidence-independent theories"; it's because the evidence shows that alterations have been made. My worries are not eased by hearing now that "there are at least two versions of all of Rands notes." For if that is, indeed, the case, then those of us who are not able to check the archives are forever at the mercy of those who do, in fact, "pick and choose" what journal entries to publish, and what journal entries not to publish. It makes the job of tracing Rand's intellectual development, her chronological "chewing" of various ideas, virtually impossible.

Dialectician that I am, I didn't want to conclude this post without at least mentioning a few of Mike's other comments, ever in search of the "full context" of my interlocutor's passing thoughts. So I actually discovered that Mike has some semi-nice things to say about me here. Except even there, he is more wrong than he is right.

For example, he is disappointed by early commentary I wrote on James Valliant's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Fortunately, he adds a link in his update to my full review of the Valliant book, but it's still not enough to correct the distortions in his post. He's right that I have been critical in the past of the Estate's "handling of historical materials" and how the voices of Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden were airbrushed out of existence on various taped lectures. He claims that "it is clear that the voices were removed for legal reasons," but I don't believe that has ever been made clear.

He goes so far as to say that I should have been "deeply troubled" by the Brandens' books, given my concern with "the accuracy of the historical record," especially since I used the Brandens "as major sources for [my] book on Rand."

Uh, no, Mike. My work in Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical did not depend on the Brandens as "major sources"; indeed, the "major source" for the historical aspects of my book was my own archival researches. That research has continued here, here, and here, but not a single ARI-affiliated scholar has ever publicly (and I do stress publicly) commented on the very detailed work that I continue to do in reconstructing the record of Rand's early education.

Let me say in conclusion that those who adhere to a "closed-system" view of Objectivism will get little argument from me; I have stated here, for example, that "[i]n essentials, every 'philosophy'be it 'scientific socialism' or 'Objectivism'is, by necessity, closed: It must be something definite, or it is not definable; it must have identity and it must have boundaries or there will be no way of distinguishing one doctrine from another."

But even a closed system view does not require that its adherents close themselves off to discussion with those who do not identify themselves as Objectivists. Such a policy can only lead to the formation, over time, of a kind of sclerotic intellectual ghettoization for which I have no use.

So I commend people like James Valliant, and even Mike at Passing Thoughts, for actually attempting to engage their interlocutors.

Appendix #1

At SOLO, a relevant discussion on these issues is taking place. Below, I reply to various points made by James Valliant and Magenta Hornet here, here, and here. My comments are also archived at SOLO starting here.

For the record, I did not find "very few (if still unexplained) problems" in Harriman's editing of Journals of Ayn Rand. I was only able to compare one journal entry from that book to the same passage published previously in The Objectivist Forum. And a comparison of these different versions of the same passage showed inexplicable editing, including the elimination of the name "Albert Jay Nock" from the Journals' version. I have never seen the actual journals in Rand's handwriting, and I've never seen any other published passages from Rand's journals by which to make a more general comparison. So, what few problems I identified were only identified because I had a basis for comparison. With no archival access and no alternatively published versions of the journal entries available, I have no basis for assessing the overall quality of Harriman's editing.

What I did say, in my initial essay on Harriman's editing (see here), however, was not that Harriman was being dishonest in his editing but that the introduction of these alterations, with no explanation, leaves scholars in the position of having to question their authenticity in part, or in toto. This is a totally unnecessary problem that emerged, which could have been very easily addressed by those responsible for the editing of Rand's personal papers. Unfortunately, the problem has never been addressed by Harriman or anybody else. (That's not quite correct; one blogger recently addressed some of these issues, but I think the questions this blogger raises only compound the problem. See Notablog here [above].)

I should state that whatever objections people have to Jim Valliant's parenthetical remarks in his publication of Rand's personal diaries, I praised him, from Square One, for having published the material raw and for having indicated every change he made with proper use of brackets and bold emphasis.

As for the issue of the Brandens' accounts: Jim has, no doubt, found a number of inconsistencies and conflicts within each of the Branden accounts and between them. But most of these conflicts revolve around "subjectivity" issues: how each person, deeply embedded in the interpersonal dynamics that constituted The Affair, interpreted the other person's thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc. in the context of that Affair. I am not saying that The Affair is unimportant; I just continue to maintain that it relates less to the philosophic system that is Objectivism than, say, an understanding of Rand's intellectual development (which has always been of more interest to me).

As for the removal of the Brandens' voices from audio lectures, such as Rand's lectures on fiction-writing: All this would be put to rest if those responsible for the editing simply provided us with an explanation. But this practice of airbrushing people out of existence once they've broken with Rand or her immediate followers is not restricted to the Brandens. See this lovely demonstration at the Free Radical site, for example.

I have a problem with practices that alter the historical record; differences such as those that exist between the Brandens' accounts of The Affair and Rand's own journals can at least be placed in the context of motivational or interpretive differences. Jim V and I can disagree over the motivations of the players in question on any number of issues; but at least Jim V decided to approach the issue head-on, rather than bracketing out the existence of the Brandens from public discussion.

When people simply disappear from an historical record, there is something important that is being eliminated, something that partially explains that record or provides a richer context for understanding it.

As for my use of the archival material in the possession of ARI: I was in touch with Leonard Peikoff briefly prior to the publication of my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. He refused to provide me with any photos for my book because he had had a bad experience with the use of a photo by James Baker for a book that Baker wrote on Rand. Not only did I understand his apprehensiveness, I actually raised the issue of the Baker book before he had a chance to. He explained that unless he really knew the people involved, he would not share such material. That was his right.

I had also asked him relevant questions concerning Rand's relationship to Professor N.O. Lossky, which he was unable to answer, but he had promised me at the time that if he came into any information about the case, he'd get in touch with me.

After the publication of my book, I received a number of letters from people at ARI who were pleased with the seriousness that I brought to the study of Rand. This didn't imply agreement with my work. But they were completely aware of my relationship to the Brandens (they saw in my book my extensive treatment of the Brandens' contributions as well as photos provided to me by the Brandens), and this never stopped them from continuing a correspondence. In fact, they were fascinated by my uncovering of information about Rand's early education at the Stoiunin gymnasium and secured from me a photo of Lossky for use in the documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life." I actually received a screen credit (along with Boris Lossky, N. O. Lossky's son) in that film.

Moreover, at the time, I had invited some ARI-affiliated scholars to contribute dissenting material to the volume Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand; they declined. Perhaps, in that instance, the presence of both Brandens in the volume posed a problem. But this was not the explanation they offered.

All I know is that I was on the verge of receiving a faxed copy of Rand's college transcript when they suddenly told me that I could do the research, provide them with my evaluation of the material, but never publish on the subject. They gave me no explanation as to why I would be denied the right to publish my findings; at first, I simply thought that they would want to make the "big splash" and that it was a "timing" issue. But that was not the issue, and they never explained why it was that I would have no right to reap the benefits of my own work. As it turned out, I sought those archival documents elsewhere, and eventually published my findings in the first issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies.

Let me stress my agreement here with Magenta Hornet, however, that "The Rand estate has every right to decide how and when Rand's journals are made public ~ in any manner it chooses," even if it has never been expressed to me, implicitly or explicitly, that I have been denied access to those archives because of my relationship with the Brandens. In any event, such would not explain the denial of access to many other scholars, like Mimi Gladstein or biographer Anne Heller.

In fact, to my knowledge, no non-ARI scholars have been allowed to use the Rand Archives. Jim V may be the exception, but he had a relationship of sorts with Leonard Peikoff and his intellectual conclusions were certainly in sync with the negative assessment of the Brandens that Peikoff himself shares.

Such control over archives is not unusual; the Freud estate, the Nietzsche estate, and so many other estates, in their infancy, attempted to control the flow of information as a way of protecting the legacy of the person in question. But, over time, that control just doesn't work. Scholarly pursuits will not be held back no matter how many litmus tests are put in place to guide those pursuits.

I agree fundamentally with Jim on this point: "It is certainly to be hoped and expected that one day all scholars will be able to use all of it ..."

Appendix #2

Jim, you wrote:

But it's not suspiciously secretive of them, either. They significantly, then, did allow the examination of the materials you requested, just not their use, as I thought. Thank you for that. And for confirming that you do not contend that Harriman acted in bad faith.

No, you misunderstand. They actually did not allow my examination of the material. They wanted a verbal agreement from me before they faxed the material to my home that I never write on the subject. So, in truth, I never saw any of the material. Not until years later, after I'd spent tons of money and months upon months using research assistants to find another copy of the Rand transcript in the archives of the University of St. Petersburg.

I don't know if anybody else has asked to review the material from The Objectivist Forum, but I can tell you that I did find quite a few additional editorial changes in the passage comparisons that I did see. None of this implies dishonesty on the part of Harriman or anybody else; but it introduces unnecessary confusion.

As for the Reismans: I don't know the whole background; I just have a real problem with altering documents that were already published. I could be wrong, but it was my impression, for example, that even Edith Packer's lectures in Peikoff's brilliant course, "Understanding Objectivism," are no longer part of that course. Whatever the reasons are: Packer was a part of that series, and the lectures she gave were, in my view, indispensable to that series, the same way Branden's essays are indispensable to Rand's anthologies (which, thank goodness, for the most part, have not been altered... except one cannot find Branden's essays from Virtue of Selfishness or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal in the searchable CD-ROM of Rand's books).

I am happy to hear that Andrew Bernstein cites Reisman appropriately in his new book; that's quite a difference from, say, Salsman, who is now at intellectual odds with Reisman and virtually the whole Austrian school of economics in his most recent series of articles in The Intellectual Activist. (On this last point, see my essay with Larry Sechrest in PDF form here.)

I understand your point, too, Jim, about not wanting to promote the work of those individuals whom one considers immoral. But I'm speaking strictly from the perspective of an intellectual historian: I don't want to see any alteration in a book or a tape once it has been published or produced. I would sooner appreciate an editor stating at the outset that Person X is no longer associated with me or my philosophy... while still publishing the essays that were part of the anthology to begin with. This is, in fact, what Rand herself did. Her followers should have done the same thing. It would have preserved the integrity of the historical record, while allowing them to "set the record straight" in a postscript or preface.

And that's what irks me: For all I know, the principals in any of these conflicts may have been in the right in morally condemning any number of people with whom they were previously associated. But the historical record is what it is; a scholar can contextualize it in a new edition, but erasing a contribution that was part of the record is just not the scholarly thing to do. And, no, nobody owes me or any other scholar an explanation; but then they should not be upset when people speculate wildly about their motives.

As for the issue of your book and your views of the Brandens: I'll not revisit it here, since we've both discussed it here. All of it, in my view, still revolves around the Affair and the personal interactions of these people, including "the bogus counseling, the false pretenses about the Brandens' marriage, and such other issues connected to the Affair ..." I never paid much attention to this Affair prior to your book. It constituted a couple of sentences in my entire Russian Radical, and no more than a couple of paragraphs in a subsequent essay on the documentary, "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life." I just don't focus on it because I don't believe it is essential to my understanding of Objectivism or Rand's intellectual development. (That's quite apart from the fact that I applauded you for bringing her private journals to light; I found that material very worthwhile reading.)

Appendix #3

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.

Appendix #4

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.

Appendix #5

Just a note to say that after a day of discussion on this, I've just noticed that Mike from Passing Thoughts has posted a reply to me as well. Thanks for your comments, Mike.

In his reply, Mike states:

One of his major gripes with my post is that I accuse him of accusing Harriman and Peikoff of scholarly dishonesty. He says he does not think this. I will take him at his word and retract that. But I still dont understand what the meaning of this is: "In this single three-sentence paragraph, there are six alterations. And at least four are important to scholars and others who want to understand Rand. How many other revisions of the historical record are there?" [bold is mine]
The word "revision," as I understand it, implies intent. I read this as Sciabarra accusing Harriman and the Estate of Ayn Rand of intentionally covering up historical fact. I think such intentional distortion would be wrong. Like I said, I will take Dr. Sciabarra at his word, but I do not think my initial reaction to his paper was unwarranted in light of his concluding paragraph.

Fair enough, Mike. I can understand how you might have thought "revision" implies "intent." But "to revise" something can simply mean "to reconsider," "to change," or "to modify." I meant it strictly in those terms: A change was made to the passage that subsequently modified its meaning. I don't think my use of the word necessarily implies an evaluation of the character, quality, or motivation underlying the change. But, as I said, fair enough.

As for how others have understood (or misunderstood) my comments: I can't be responsible for how every person interprets my points. I have enough trouble keeping track of the number of dialogues in which I, myself, have participated. As I said from the opening of this post, "it is impossible for me to keep up with the many discussions of my work" or, indeed, of points that I have made over the past 15 years.

One final comment: I am utterly delighted to see more dissent within "orthodox" ranks on questions as varied as economics and the war. It is my hope that over time the engagement of the "orthodoxy" will extend outward to include scholars of many different hues.

Thanks again for your reply.

Appendix #6

Casey writes:

There is a difference between the historical record and products SOLD by the ARI for learning purposes. The record is, IN FACT, preserved, but ARI has no obligation, and probably legitimate legal concerns about SELLING educational materials to which the Brandens contributed without remunerating the Brandens for such sales. Isn't that clear?

That's very clear, Casey, and very well put.

But let me repeat for the umpteenth time: Ayn Rand herself never sought to alter the historical record of the books that are still being sold in which Branden's essays appear. (And I don't believe Branden gets one dime of remuneration from the ongoing sale of such anthologies as The Virtue of Selfishness or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal). Indeed, the only thing Rand ever did was to remove the dedication she made to Nathaniel in Atlas Shrugged on post-1968 printings of the book. This was entirely understandable, in my view... as was the cessation of sales of courses in which the Brandens were principal lecturers ("Basic Principles of Objectivism," "Principles of Efficient Thinking," etc.). I suspect, however, that all of those recorded lecture courses are on file in the Ayn Rand Archives.

Rand was very clear in her anthologies that the Brandens were no longer associated with her or her philosophy, as I said earlier in this thread, but none of this required a rewriting of reality, even in the "SELLING" of what might be considered "educational materials to which the Brandens contributed." Adam Reed is right when he emphasizes this as an outgrowth of Rand's primacy of existence view.

If the Estate wished to continue the policy of keeping the historical record intact for saleable items, it could have done the exact same thing. And if it chose not to do the same thing, the Estate could have at least informed scholars, like myself, who spent exorbitant amounts of money on lectures and audio courses that the material had been edited for content because earlier unnamed participants were no longer associated with Rand's philosophy.

Understand that heterodox non-ARI affiliated scholars like myself have to depend on the materials that the Estate offers for sale because we will never gain access to the archives where the historical record is being "preserved." I'd like to be proven wrong.

Now James wonders why it is that those of us on this side of the divide aren't as upset by the "alterations" in the historical record perpetuated by the Brandens. But Nathaniel Branden wrote a memoir, and Barbara Branden wrote a biography with heavy doses of memoir. Neither of them has ever posed as a "keeper of the flame" and neither of them has a monopoly on knowledge or information about Rand. The fact that a book has now been written and published that provides a starkly different portrait of Rand in many respects is proof that this enterprise will continue. And there are other biographies in the works, including one being written by Shoshana Milgram, who has full access to the archives, and one being written by Anne Heller, who was denied access. The Brandens may have offered the first word on Rand biography, but they will most certainly not be the last word. Praise be to the proliferation of competition in the intellectual marketplace!

But competition is not something the Estate seems to want; it possesses a virtual monopoly on most of the written and oral record of Rand and her early associates and it heavily restricts access to that record. Those of us writing in the area of historical biography or on the evolution of Rand's thought and movement must depend upon that record, even as we must seek out alternative sources of information (like those being offered by the Objectivist History Project, with which I am associated). If we are denied access to the historical record because we just don't have the proper credentials or know the right people, our dependence on the saleable record is clearly not enough. Because that record is being edited, in some respects, heavily edited.

And, to repeat: the practice of bracketing out people who are persona non grata from the "saleable" items is not restricted to the Brandens. Until or unless the archives are opened to all bona fide scholars, we will forever be in the dark, guessing what has been excised and speculating, unnecessarily, for better or for worse, about the motives of those who do the excising.

So, James, you may justifiably feel that no injustice has been perpetuated by the editing of saleable items, but you've gone to the mountain top and you've seen the promised land. You were granted access to the archives.

The rest of us are still waiting. And a part of me suspects that we will all be dead before any heterodox non-ARI-affiliated scholar gets into those archives.

Appendix #7

James writes:

So, if Nathaniel Branden were to reprint "The Moral Revolution in 'Atlas Shrugged'" from WHO IS AYN RAND?, and then to have suppressed a credit reference to Leonard Peikoff in an original footnote within it, would that be same kinda thing being complained about here? (Thank you, Craig Ceely.**)

Absolutely.

Except that the one reprint of that essay was by The Objectivist Center, and Nathaniel Branden indicates explicitly that he made "a few cuts." (He was not explicit about what the cuts were, but Rand herself was not fully explicit about the cuts she made to the 1959 edition of We the Living, so I'm not going to fault Branden for not providing an essay-length discussion of the cuts he actually made; the Peikoff note is only one of several.)

Branden also states in his preface to the reprint that the essay "was written at a time when my thinking was totally in alignment with that of Ayn Rand's, and thus none of the reservations or questions about her work that I would convey in later books and lectures is in evidence."

In point of fact, however, "Basic Principles of Objectivism," Nathaniel Branden's recorded lecture course, which TOC currently offers for sale, and "Principles of Efficient Thinking" (a Barbara Branden lecture course) have both been sold in the years after the break, and neither course has been altered at all, in any way, shape, or form, to my knowledge.

---
**Added note: BTW, Craig was also the one who reminded me recently about my screen credit in the "Sense of Life" documentary that I mentioned in this post. Not that I needed too much reminding; seeing my name on the big screen, I admit, was a thrill. :)

Appendix #8

Casey writes: "But in the end, this issue is a pretty thin reed to hang all the uproar against ARI on. ... And getting all hot about this and not about the Brandens' disregard for the historic record is a little hard for me to buy at this point."

Sorry, Casey, what I'm saying is no thin reed.

As for the Brandens: It's not as if none of us was aware of the Branden deceptions prior to Jim's book. And whatever you want to say about Rand's critics, there isn't a reputable scholar alive that I know who did not place the Branden books in their proper context as "first words" from witnesses who had a very personal stake in the events they described.

We can keep debating this, but it will not be resolved to our mutual satisfaction. I continue to maintain that what the Brandens did and what they have said about Rand pertained primarily to their personal experiences with her. And they are not the only people who knew Rand and who have said unflattering things about Rand.

But even if Rand were the biggest bitch imaginable or the kindest person who ever lived, it would not matter to me one iota in terms of my evaluation of the truth of her philosophy or my understanding of her intellectual origins or legacy. I don't reduce my analysis of a philosophy to an analysis of the life of the person who forged it. And this is coming from somebody who spent an inordinate amount of time in Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical trying to come to terms with a specific aspect of Rand's life, namely, her early education.

It is because my attention is focused on Rand's philosophy, and on her intellectual origins, development, and evolution as a thinker, that the Ayn Rand Archives are important to me.

Let me also state for the hearing of the world: I actually send a small annual contribution to the Ayn Rand Institute, because I believe that they are doing important work. From their essay contests to their archival preservation, there is much to commend here. That doesn't mean that they can't do better.

Perhaps if you better understood and appreciated the unnecessarily adversarial and often litigious relationship* of ARI to most non-ARI scholars (some recent promising changes notwithstanding at the Institute), you'd be better able "to buy" the passion that some of us bring to this discussion.

---
*The litigiousness pertains not to ARI, actually, but to the Estate of Ayn Rand.

Appendix #9

I need to preface this post with a personal note. I want to thank the participants here for dragging me out of my doldrums, and inspiring me with "twisted balls" as we say here in Brooklyn, to jump into the fray. It has been difficult to do much of anything as I've been nursed back to my "normal" level of ill-health, coming out of a severe medical setback. I extended an official "thank you" at Notablog to all my well-wishers, but I wanted to extend it here as well.

Because of these recent medical woes, and because of some circumstances that are beyond my control, I am needing to "pull the reins" back a bit. I am behind in my normal work responsibilities by about a month, and I am poised to begin (again) a major research project on Aleksandr Blok, the Nietzschean Russian Symbolist writer whom Rand named as her "favorite poet."

More importantly, I am spending a lot of time on responsibilities connected to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, of which I am a founding co-editor. One of the journal's co-founders, Bill Bradford, is suffering from severe health problems himself (see here).

And, I'm sorry to report today that I received word the other night that my Associate Editor, and prolific SOLO contributor, Robert Campbell, was involved in a serious bike accident in which he broke both his wrists. He underwent surgery and is currently in the hospital. He is scheduled to be released soon, but will be unable to use his hands much in the coming month or two. (Well-wishers may want to leave their "get well" thoughts here at SOLO.)

All this means that I have an enormous amount of work to do, more than usual, in readying the next issue of JARS.

I'm sure I'll get my "balls twisted" on occasion to post at SOLO again at some point and I will continue my daily blogging at Notablog. But I do need to adjust my work responsibilities accordingly in the face of these current difficulties.

All of this said, I do wish to respond at length to Casey and James. You've both been indefatigable interlocutors and I think that something should be said in response to your latest posts.

***

In response to Casey here: I am not going to speculate as to why Nathaniel Branden characterized his cut of a footnote (among other cuts) crediting Peikoff as a "superfluous" cut. I don't think one has to be a rocket scientist to know that these two men are not exactly affectionate toward one another. The point I was making, however, is that Branden at least told us that he cut something. Of course, most Rand scholars do have access to Who is Ayn Rand?, which, even though it is no longer in print, remains an important historical document in the evolution of Objectivism. (It is certainly in the hands of far more people than the TOC reprint.)

In any event, you won't find anything approaching an acknowledgment of editing in any current publications emanating from ARI-affiliated sources.

My comment that reputable scholars view "the Branden books in their proper context as 'first words' from witnesses who had a very personal stake in the events they described" is also not a new one. Most recently, I made virtually the same comment in my review of James Valliant's book (see the section on "Historical Methodology" in that review here).

As far as scholars go, I have never been to a conference at either The Objectivist Center or the Ayn Rand Institute. I have attended several "day" lectures through the years sponsored by TOC in New York City. At those conferences, the attention was on ethics, politics, or aesthetics. Nary a word was ever said about Ayn Rand's personal life.

My comments about the marginal character of the Affair in genuine Rand scholarship are based on years of contributing to, editing, and reading in the Rand scholarly literature.

For example: JARS is now entering its seventh year of publication. We have 13 issues to our credit since the Fall of 1999. I count a total of 152 articles published over this time period. Of these articles only a very few mention Rand's personal life, and only a very few of these mention Rand's "moral shortcomings." In these limited number of cases, the authors' judgments of Rand are based on their reading of the Branden works for sure. You will find a comment about Rand's "moral shortcomings" in Lisa Dolling's Spring 2000 review of Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (a book that includes an essay by Barbara Branden); Joseph Maurone's Spring 2002 essay, "The Trickster Icon and Objectivism" (which deals with much more than Rand's "personal life," focusing on important Romantic themes in Rand's novels); and the James Arnt Aune Fall 2002 essay referenced in Valliant's book (an essay that was met with devastating critique by Leland Yeager in our pages). Other essays that mention Rand's personal life: Dean Brooks's review of the Sures memoir; and a 3-article exchange between Karen Michalson and Sky Gilbert on Gilbert's Branden-inspired play, The Emotionalists.

But a book review of David Kelley's Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand focuses almost no attention on Rand's personal life or the "movement" schisms; Jonathan Jacobs, the reviewer, is much more interested in philosophical issues and actually yearns for a "more purely philosoph[ical] book."

It is true that some left-wing critics, like Gene Bell-Villada, mention Barbara Branden's biographybut he sees Barbara as Rand's "frank yet devoted biographer" ("Nabokov and Rand," Fall 2001 JARS).

Other left-wingers, like Slavoj Zizek ("The Actuality of Ayn Rand," Spring 2002 JARS) go so far as to praise Rand for the way she handled The Affair. Writes Zizek: "There is a well-known story about Rand whose superficially scandalous aspect often eclipses its extraordinary ethical significance." That "ethical significance," for Zizek, is not located in Rand-as-Moral Monster, but in the fact that "Rand did not cheat" (Zizek's emphasis). He concludes:"To show such firmness in the most intimate domain bears witness to an ethical stance of extraordinary strength: while Rand was here arguably 'immoral' [in the conventional sense, a reference to the extramarital affair], she was ethical in the most profound meaning of the word. It is this ethical stance of inner freedom that accounts for the authenticity clearly discernible in Rand's description of ... Howard Roark." And Zizek then goes on to praise Roark as one of the most authentic and benevolent of fictional characters.

So, all in all, in seven years of publishing JARS, I count a total 10 articles out of 152 that mention Rand's personal life, and not all of these references are unflattering, as we have seen from the Zizek article.

Zizek didn't need to read Valliant's book (this was Spring 2002 after all) in order to come to this conclusion, and he had every reason, as a left-wing pomo, to make lots of snide comments about Rand. Instead, he formed his own positive conclusions from his own reading of the Branden books.

So, clearly, not everybody, including the critics, walks away from the Branden books with a view of Rand-as-Moral-Monster.

Remember, btw, that JARS is being "boycotted" by the likes of ARI-scholar Andrew Bernstein because of the "people" we publish. Bernstein called for that boycott of the journal and of all my works (which he admits to never having read), in the Spring of 2002, after we'd published a single paragraph reply Bernstein had written for the journal to a Kirsti Minsaas review of his Cliffsnotes (see here and here). I'll leave it to others to speculate on the character of Bernstein's denunciation. Clearly, from where I sit, it has nothing to do with the fact that we publish "the Brandens" (ooops, we have published an essay or two by the Great Mini-Satan, David Kelley!!!) or that we are some kind of Branden "front organization." That JARS is a "nonpartisan" publication has done nothing to ease the tension (see here and here).

Now, if I extend my inquiry to include the larger Rand scholarly literature, I can tell you that one finds very few references to Rand's personal life. ARI-affiliated scholars who have published fine books (I count the writing and editing work of Robert Mayhew, the work of Tara Smith, and others) never say a negative word about Rand's personal life. No surprise there. But non-ARI-affiliated scholars have a similar track record. Take a look at the countless volumes of essays and books on Ayn Rand, by Douglas Den Uyl (The Fountainhead: An American Novel); Douglas Rasmussen (with Den Uyl, The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand; ); Mimi Gladstein (Atlas Shrugged: A Manifesto of the Mind; The Ayn Rand Companion); Tibor Machan (Ayn Rand, and hundreds of other articles), and you'll find almost an exclusive focus on Rand's philosophy or literary legacy. And that's where the focus should be.

(As an aside, I should mention that none of these non-ARI-affiliated writers is ever referenced in the works of any ARI-affiliated scholars. I can think of a single exception: Tara Smith, who has referenced Rasmussen in her work. But the overwhelming number of publications coming from ARI-affiliated scholars is marked by citational partisanship; non-ARI-affiliated scholars freely reference ARI-affiliated scholars, but not the other way around. On this peculiar phenomenon, see here.)

So, we're back to Square One: The smears of Ayn Rand are coming mostly from people who despise Ayn Rand's philosophy, and whose comments on her personal life are the icing on a cake baked in the oven of a primarily ideological opposition (the Commentary article that James references is a case in point; see here).

Folks, I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree about our different views of the nature of the Branden books. From where I sit, scholars and other readers have been aware for nearly two decades of the central deceptions that the Brandens perpetuated toward the end of their relationship with Ayn Rand.

Where we are at odds is that I do not believe the Brandens are the focus of evil in the modern world; I do not ascribe every action and reaction of the Brandens to lying, deception, and manipulation; and I do not see conflict between or within the books as symptomatic of that evil. This was a complex tragedy that involved the poor choices and lives of four people directly and, apparently, countless numbers of people indirectly.

I suspect that this entire generation is going to have to die out before we relegate this whole mess to a footnote in the larger text that is Ayn Rand's profoundly important philosophical legacy.

Appendix #10

Just a very brief rejoinder.

James, you have to allow that my participation in this forum and at Notablog, contextualized further by reading through several hundred (or is that thousand?) posts on this topic, might lead me to a little hyperbole. But if you clearly don't believe that the Brandens are the focus of evil in the modern world, I sure do get the impression that youand others who support your positionreally do believe that the Brandens are irredeemably evil and that their motivations are almost always base. I could be wrong about this ...

Let me state four further clarifications for the record:

1. I honestly don't see how my previous post was "a giant and irrelevant distraction from the book or its goals." I thought one of your points, James, was that too much criticism of Rand is rooted in charges made by the Brandens. I simply pointed to over 150 articles in JARS and much of the critical scholarship done on Rand, and I find that the discussion of Rand is not informed (much, if at all) by the Branden books. This much is true: We do need to be vigilant and call ad hominem for what it is, whether it shows up in Commentary or National Review.

2. The Zizek article was published in the Spring 2002 JARS; however, it is a revision and expansion of an article that Zizek wrote for the Fall 1997 issue of Lacanian Ink, so his views on this topic predate both his JARS article and the electronic publication of part 1 of your book.

3. I'll let David Kelley speak for himself. I think the issues he deals with in Contested Legacy, however, go far beyond Rand's biography and speak to the problems inherent in the very sycophancy that the Brandens played a part in creating in the historical evolution of the Objectivist movement. It is a sycophancy that is still with us today in some circles.

4. I do not feel that I've been dealt with uncharitablyin any way, shape, or formby either you or Casey. I think we've been mutually respectful from the beginning. It's natural to get a little hot-under-the-collar on some of these issues, but I think we've conducted ourselves just fine.

Cheers,
Chris

Appendix #11: A Postscript

I asked the Brandens about the issues surrounding the editing out of their voices on tapes still being marketed by the Ayn Rand Institute. I asked two questions:

1. Could it be that ARI and/or the Estate might have been worried that they'd have to pay a royalty to the Brandens if their voices were left on the tapes?

2. Did either of you or both of you negotiate an end to the use of your voices by Rand and her heirs in taped lecture courses?

Both Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden answered "No" to both questions.

Barbara added that she could not imagine why anyone would be worried about paying royalties to the Brandens and not to everyone else whose voices were left in. She said she has had no communication or negotiation whatever with anyone at ARI or with the Estate about this or any other related issue. And she states further that she did not require or suggest that ARI cease using her voice. Nathaniel confirms this with regard to his own voice.

I also asked others who were around in the early days to confirm if, in the post-1968 era, the voices of the Brandens were ever heard on marketed recordings. Apparently, some recall that the Branden voices were originally left on marketed recordings but that every mention of the Branden names was deleted. Perhaps because the voices remained recognizable, later marketed recordings deleted the voices as well and substituted a narrator's voice.

(Other discussants have continued the dialogue over these points at SOLO, starting here.)

Update

Discussions of the Valliant book and the Branden books continues in various Objectivist forums. See, for example, Robert Campbell's article at SOLO, and the discussion that follows there.

A lot has been made of the fact that the Brandens don't discuss much of the content of Nathaniel Branden's psychotherapy sessions with Rand in the time leading up to the end of their relationship. Rand's journals reveal that Branden was complaining of sexual paralysis. When, later, she learns of his lies, it is reported in the Branden books that Rand slapped his face, and proclaimed: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health---you'll be impotent for the next twenty years! And if you achieve any potency, you'll know it's a sign of still worse moral degradation!" And then she slapped him three times.

In Passion, Barbara tells us that the affair had been put on hold for 6 years, and that over that time, it "had rarely been sexual" (331). She reports that NB tells Ayn that he has no "emotional capacity" left for his relationship with her---because of his collapsing marriage. This is in sync with AR's report: that's why AR started to become a kind of "marriage counselor" to the Brandens.

She reports that NB starts withdrawing from AR, but talked obsessively about his relationship with Patrecia. He spoke of "physical and emotional" problems to AR (335) and AR began "to question the reality of his love." BB reports that NB felt guilt because he was not having the 'requisite' response to AR---his "highest value" and something that he believed he should have felt, given the Objectivist theory of romantic love. He was hoping that he'd be able to exhibit that "passionate sexual response to Ayn," but kept telling AR that his lack of response to her, "the problems besetting their relationship had nothing to do with his love for her."

It was my understanding when I first read these passages, and it is my understanding now, that this was BB's way of saying that NB wasn't getting aroused for AR, telling AR, in effect: "It's not you, it's me." He made every excuse: it was the "triangle," he said; etc. And AR began to counsel him on his problem, through "endless psychological sessions, endless excruciatingly difficult labor for her---and the tortured sense that everything she did and said was somehow beside the point, that she was losing him." (335)

"I love Ayn, but I can't release the feeling; something is blocking it---that's the only problem," NB tells himself (says BB).

I always interpreted these passages as grand self-deception and excuse-making (not only to AR but to himself) for Branden's inability to feel anything sexual toward AR. And he was also consciously deceiving AR: He felt the need to pretend that it was a generalized sexual problem, because if he didn't represent it as such, he'd have to admit that he was fully aroused for Patrecia.

But this shows the depth of Branden's deception: it was self-deception first, because he was accepting the theory of romantic love as response to "highest values" (read: highest intellectual values), thus rationalizing the whole theory, and if he were not responding to AR, it meant that the problem, in his mind, was, indeed, deep---pointing to his inner corruption. In other words, he not only accepted "the theory," but blamed himself for not living up to the theory or to AR, and had to lie to AR and to himself in order to deal with a mounting guilt, a devastating internal contradiction between his conscious ideas, subconscious desires, feelings, thoughts, and actions.

By p. 336, BB is talking about AR's questioning of the "age difference": trying to find every which reason to explain NB's lack of "desire" for her. NB seems to muster some "honeymoon periods"---but then he fell back "into guilt, into remorse, into further deceit." And then AR turns to BB---and BB now has to act as AR's "friend"---while protecting NB's secret. Oy. What a mess.

BB's rendering of AR's thoughts here seem in sync with what we now know from Rand's private journals ... though Valliant interprets it as AR conceding that NB can never really be her lover. But I don't think this is necessarily so: Clearly by "early in 1968," AR is saying that she thinks NB only loves her "theoretically, but it has no emotional reality." She does feel as if she's lost him and can't understand his obsession with Patrecia. She claims to believe NB that he wasn't in love with Patrecia (let alone involved with her sexually).

Finally, in July 1968, NB writes that letter to AR where he admits that "their ages had become an impassable barrier to his sexual feeling"; in effect, he enunciates that which he kept denying: "age differences have contributed to my sexual impotence with you."

AR is now furious... because he'd been denying it was an "age problem" all along. But he still fails to admit his relationship with Patrecia. Finally in mid-July, he admits to AR his love for Patrecia, but still denies the affair, and tells AR that he knows what this must mean to her, "to be rejected for a lesser value." She's furious, rightly so.

Finally, by August, all the truth comes out... and AR breaks with the Brandens completely. (She, of course, is in touch with BB again in 1981... and becomes aware that BB is writing her biography.)

I think NB's basic points here are in sync with BB's. He does tell us in his memoir that he felt AR "too old to inspire romantic feelings in me." [Read: sexual feelings.] It's clear throughout this entire time that despite his lies, he is, I think, subconsciously, putting all the "information" out there for Rand to see: his obsessiveness over Patrecia, talks of hypotheticals, etc.---all his way of telling her the truth, without having to tell her the truth... and in total contradiction to what he is saying to Rand on every other level.

So, getting back to Rand's comment that Branden ought to be impotent: When I first read the Branden books, and read that "impotence" comment from Rand, I interpreted it as follows: "You bastard! You claimed you had all these problems that prevented you from having an intimate relationship with me... and all along, you were having sex with Patrecia!" And if you factor in how rejected she must have felt by that point, how his lies tried to "soften the blow"---only to make the blow worse than ever---I must say that I had no negative reaction to Rand raising that impotence issue or to the number of times she slapped his face. I walked away from those books with a much more positive view of AR and a much more negative view of NB. (And the Valliant book has actually made Rand even more sympathetic.)

And I don't think my original reaction was so atypical: As I said above, even Slavoj Zizek, a left-wing pomo, drew the same conclusions, when he had every reason to use this against Rand, given his ideological opposition to her philosophy.

One final point: Valliant argues that NB had projected in his memoir that AR was literally insane. Except that the one place where he uses that word ("insane"), it is Patrecia who makes the statement (on p. 369 in Judgment Day, 1st edition) and NB never seems to use the word literally, placing it in quotes (on p. 372): "If Ayn was 'insane' [ed: notice he places that word within q

September 13, 2005

The Rand Transcript, Revisited

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and still marking the Rand Centenary, I have been publishing a number of retrospectives.

Today comes yet another essay. Published in the new issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, it is another installment in my continuing research on Rand's education in Russia, which I first examined in Russian Radical, and explored even further in two 1999 articles: "In Search of the Rand Transcript" (published in Liberty magazine) and "The Rand Transcript" (published in the very first issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies).

The newest article makes use of archival materials that were recently uncovered by Anne Heller, who is currently working on a biography entitled Ayn Rand: An American Life, scheduled for publication by Doubleday in 2007. Anne was remarkably generous in sharing these materials with me, and they provided some interesting additions to the historical record. I'm delighted as well to see a continuing stream of evidence that does not impugn, in any way, the conclusions I reached in my earlier studies over the past decade.

I've not only revisited the archives in this new essay; I've also revisited the subject of philosopher N. O. Lossky, who was Ayn Rand's philosophy professor during her first year at the University of Petrograd. We were able to recover and publish a rare photograph of Lossky, taken from his secret police file (kept by the GPU). It is a photo of a man who seems to echo the physical attributes of a philosophy teacher named "Professor Leskov," a character that Rand eventually cut from her most autobiographical novel, We the Living.

For my thoughts on all this, and on many other subjects of historical importance, read the whole essay, which is available today on my "Dialectics and Liberty" website:

"The Rand Transcript, Revisited" (PDF available here)

Comments welcome.

New JARS: The Seventh Volume Begins

The temperatures are going to hit 90 degrees again in New York City on this late summer day. But Autumn is arriving a little early.

Today, the Fall 2005 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has been published. It begins our seventh volume, our seventh year.

Here is the Table of Contents:

The Rand Transcript, Revisited - Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Mimesis and Expression in Ayn Rands Theory of Art - Kirsti Minsaas

Langer and Camus: Unexpected Post-Kantian Affinities with Rands Aesthetics - Roger E. Bissell

The Facts of Reality: Logic and History in Objectivist Debates about Government - Nicholas Dykes

Ayn Rand versus Adam Smith - Robert White

Feser on Nozick - Peter Jaworski

Kant on Faith - Fred Seddon

Seddon on Rand - Kevin Hill

Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis - Roderick T. Long

Reply to Ari Armstrong: How to Be a Perceptual Realist - Michael Huemer

Rejoinder to Michael Huemer: Direct Realism and Causation - Ari Armstrong

Abstracts for this issue are available here; contributor biographies can be found here.

Print-out and mail-in your subscription form today!

Comments welcome. Also noted at L&P, SOLO HQ, Humanities.Philosophy.Objectivism Usenet Group, and the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog.

September 09, 2005

Rand and the Ad Hominem Fallacy

One would think after several years in the development of modern Rand studies that Rand scholars would not have to continue dealing with the fallacy of ad hominem, which is a familiar tactic used by Rand critics to discredit Rand as a philosopher.

This is quite apart from any genuine, substantive criticisms of Rand's work, which are needed, and which Randians should engage.

Granted, because Rand ended her postscript to Atlas Shrugged with the comment "And I mean it," suggesting that her life itself was a testament to the philosophy and morality she extolled, she virtually invited discussion of how well or how poorly she reflected Objectivism. And as I have said in my review of James Valliant's book here, "we can learn things about a philosophy by examining the ways in which those who adhere to it, or who claim to adhere to it, behave. But we cant reduce a philosophy to a study of biography. Ideas have analytical integrity quite apart from the people who enunciate them. And this is coming from a writer who has enormous respect for the necessity of placing intellectual figures in both a personal and historical context so as to better appreciate the process by which such figures came to their conclusions."

Nonetheless, the "commingling" of biography and philosophy continues, especially in discussions of Rand's work. The most recent example of this comes from Commentary magazine, in which Algis Valiunas attempts to dissect "the work of the high priestess of reason," whose "centenary has gone uncelebrated."

Hogwash! As my own Centenary articles make clear, the Rand Centenary attracted quite a bit of coverage. As I wrote: "Every publication from Reason, The Free Radical, and The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies to the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, and New York Times featured something of significance in its pages. There were sponsored parties and panel discussions from California to New York to the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C."

But disparaging the Centenary isn't Valiunas's purpose; it's disparaging Rand's person as a means to disparaging her ideas that is most obvious here:

In Rand's psychology, reason unfailingly determines emotion, never the other way around. But in her own erotic life Rand was at the mercy of a turbulent unreason that pulled her under even as she burbled on about her unimpeachable rationality. As she could only love an extraordinary man, she endowed the man she married, Frank O'Connor, with all the qualities of a hero, even of a god. In fact, in almost everyone's eyes but hers, O'Connor, a failure as a movie actor, was a raging mediocrity. At the age of forty-nine, Rand fell for yet another god, Nathaniel Branden, the husband of her biographer and himself a disciple younger than she by 25 years. She expounded the perfect reasonableness of their adultery to each of the injured spouses, whom she expected reasonably to accept their twice-weekly scheduled trysts in the bedroom she shared with her husband. After years of this, the Brandens' marriage collapsed and Rand's husband swirled down the alcoholic drain. When Rand was sixty-one and Branden thirty-six, the sexual fire went out for him and he found a younger lover. Rand nearly went insane in her jealousy. Maintaining that she was entirely reasonable and right, and Branden purely evil, she destroyed his professional reputation and banished him from the Randian kingdom where he had been until then the crown prince. Heroic reason, heroic freedom, heroic love ended, as they began, in folly.

As I mentioned in my critique of Valliant's book, I have devoted only a few paragraphs in toto, in all of my Rand scholarship, to the discussion of the Rand-Branden Affair. When the critics focus on this Affair and reify it as if it were a whole unto itself, one must begin to question precisely what this strategy seeks to accomplish. They wouldn't do this typically with Plato, Kant, or Hegel, would they?

As Rand once said: "Don't bother to examine a folly, ask yourself only what it accomplishes."

Of course, we live in a culture that encourages a focus on prurient interests; that's why tabloids sell so well. And it's fairly typical that discussions of Rand end up becoming discussions of Rand's life. In these instances, however, biography doesn't supplement a discussion of ideas; it often supplants that discussion entirely. Even the New York Times, which has reviewed many Rand works, has never actually reviewed any books about Rand, unless those books are of a biographical character. Reading the Times, one would not even know that there is a growing secondary literature, a veritable industry, of scholarship focused on Rand's ideas.

As I acknowledged in my review of Valliant's book, "[t]he particular charges concerning Rands sex life can be traced to claims made in the Branden books. That much is true." But these charges are almost always used by others as the veneer to cover up an essentially ideological opposition. Back to Valiunas:

What is one to make of it all? In Rand, soundness and charlatanry commingle. In the end, charlatanry prevails. Having learned the lessons of socialist dystopia on her own body, she embraces a utopian fantasy of her own ... In her passion to reshape the world in accordance with her idea, Rand begins to sound like the tyrants she hates. Her capitalist revolutionaries speak of their opponents as "subhuman creatures," "looting lice." Galt's radio address to the nationhe has commandeered the airwaves by some electronic magicis positively Castrolike in its mad zealotry, running to over 50 pages and unfolding every half-truth and alluring lunacy Rand ever entertained. ... But compassion disgusts Rand; John Galt scorns it as love of the unworthy, a triumph of sloppy feeling over lucid reason. This is no doubt why, for all her continued popularity, Rand is anything but a commanding figure these days. Very few conservatives want any part of her, for she is the conservative bogeyman that liberals invoke to terrify their children: money-worshipping, absorbed in the pursuit of her own happiness, indifferent to the pain of others. Though she will no doubt continue to sell-there are certain effects she brings off as well as anyone, and they haye their undeniable appealit is hardly a matter for regret that her centenary has gone largely unmarked.

Now, even if Valiunas is absolutely correct in every assertion (and these are assertions, since nowhere does Valiunas actually provide any argument), what "commingles" here is ad hominem and an essential hatred of Rand's intellectual body of work.

If only more mainstream critics would focus on that body ... instead of, literally, Rand's body, or Branden's body, the state of Rand criticism and critical engagement would advance considerably. I know we are working very hard at The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies to advance that critical engagement (information about our new Fall 2005 issue will be posted here at Notablog on Tuesday, September 13, 2005). But more work needs to be done.

In any event, even if one wishes to focus on Rand biography, or on the particular issues surrounding the Rand-Branden Affair, then it is incumbent upon the critic to focus on all the material now available. Whatever one thinks about the Valliant book, I do believe that the publication of Rand's private journals changes the landscape considerably in any discussion of this particular aspect of Rand's biography. If Valiunas wishes to indict Rand's philosophy by assassinating her character, then it's important for Valiunas to at least weigh the evidence that is now available to scholars on this subject, for better or for worse. And though I have been intensely critical of how Rand's private papers have been edited up till now (see here, here, and here), I stand by my expressed belief that there is no reason to doubt the quality of Valliant's editing of those papers in his book. One may quibble with Valliant's parenthetical interpretive remarks. And one may still long for the unedited publication of all of Rand's private papers. But, in his publication of Rand's notes, Valliant is very careful to place any changes or substitutions in [brackets], unlike previous editors of Rand's letters, journals, and lectures. Such editors do not realize that their attempts to smooth out some of Rand's previously unpublished materials lead those of us who have not seen these materials to question their full authenticity.

Quite clearly, Valliant's book and my review of it are not the last words on this subject. Nor was my review or the lengthy dialogue on Notablog the last word on his book. In describing what is the essence of the "hermeneutical" enterprise, I state in my review:

The publication of [Rand's private] journals, however, will have unintended consequences; any published text is liable to generate such consequences, since it will be read and interpreted by many different people, each of whom brings a given context of knowledge and experience to the reading. And whereas people have been reading the Branden books and analyzing them for years, I suspect that even clinical psychologists will now have a field day poring over Rand's personal journals.

And so... the dissection of Rand's private life is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

In fact, Rand's private life has now been made the subject of a comic book! Writer Fred Van Lente and artist Ryan Dunlavey have just published this past June the newest installment of their "Action Philosophers" series. This one is an "All-Sex Special" that focuses on "the shocking contradiction of Thomas Jefferson," the "Hard-Drinkin', Hard-Lovin' Saint Augustine," and "Ayn Rand's Non-Objectivist Love Affair." Oy.

The cover design for Issue #2 of this series only hints at the contents. The comic tells the story of Rand's life from her beginnings in Russia. In the context of a comic book, it accurately renders Rand's thinking, but the last two pages of it tell the story of the Affair. And on that note, Van Lente concludes: "Rand liked to say that modern culture 'seemed totally indifferent to my ideas and to ideas in general.' She made sure that that would be a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Van Lente provides us with a "Recommended Reading" list at the end, which includes The Virtue of Selfishness. Though he "find[s] Rand's novels turgid and dated (the plot of Atlas Shrugged hinges upon the centrality of passenger railroads to the American economy, for example)," he believes "she is perhaps the most entertaining writer of philosophy since Nietzsche (whom she rejects as a non-rational pseudo-hedonist)."

The Rand-Branden Affair is not going away. And the rancor and divisiveness it provokes won't dissipate, I suspect, for a few generations. All the more reason for Rand scholars to insist that critics adopt a scrupulous focus on ideas in their engagement with Rand's philosophy. And if their subject is Rand biography, then they should do their best to assess all the information now at our disposal.

To reiterate: There is a place for biography and there is always a place for situating ideas in a larger historical context. But I don't think it serves the cause of Marxist criticism, for example, to criticize Marx's private life as a means toward criticizing his analytical framework. This tactic has been adopted by some critics of Marx (Gary North's essay, "The Marx Nobody Knows," published in the Yuri N. Maltsev volume, Requiem for Marx, and available as an mp3, comes to mind).

That kind of thing may be of interest to our understanding of the development of an idea. But it serves no purpose in grappling with the complexity of Marx's legacy.

If, in the future, Rand's legacy is treated with the same critical respect that has been given Marx's, it will be no small achievement.

Comments welcome.

August 28, 2005

Two SOLO HQ Posts

This is just a note to direct Notablog readers to two posts of mine at SOLO HQ. The first post reiterates points I've made many times in the past on the treatment of the subject of homosexuality by Rand and post-Randian writers.

The second post relates to that Dennis C. Hardin essay I referenced in this Notablog post. It just reiterates points made here and here, with regard to the intellectual relationship between Rand and Branden.

Update: Also check out this other post at SOLO HQ, "Hefty Complaint Against Doc," and the discussion thereafter.

Comments welcome, but readers might wish to join in on the SOLO HQ discussion.

August 27, 2005

"Lost Liberty" on "Nightline"

Friday night's "Nightline" broadcast opened with a special segment on the "Lost Liberty Hotel," an effort by Logan Darrow Clements to use the power of eminent domain to condemn the New Hampshire property of Supreme Court Justice David Souter for uses that would provide a greater "benefit" to the community. (Souter voted with the 5-4 majority in the infamous Kelo decision.)

I must admit it was hilarious to see Clements with a very visible copy of Atlas Shrugged on the ABC broadcast, which he inscribed:

Dear Mr. Souter: A story about the importance of property rights. Enjoy!
Logan Darrow Clements

Talk about milking the inner contradictions of the system to prove a point.

Taking a look at Souter's property... I can understand why anyone would want it condemned. Are the taxpayers not paying Souter a good enough salary? Can't he afford a paint job for that house?

Comments welcome.

August 26, 2005

The Rose Petal Assumption

Back in July, when volatile discussions of James S. Valliant's book The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics were proceeding on a number of forums, Dennis C. Hardin at SOLO HQ made the following point, after a long, rather critical, dialogue in response to my own engagement at Notablog with Valliant:

Nathaniel Branden said the following a while back:
About ten years ago, I came across a saying from the Talmud that impressed me profoundly. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. ... The line that so impressed me was: "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy." ...
I will acknowledge that Chris has shown the true meaning of heroism in the sense described.

Well, given my long history of engagement with adversaries on all ends of the political and intellectual spectrum, I have always responded positively to that Branden-uttered line. But there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding that phrase and its various applications. Dennis himself has brought up the issue again in a recent SOLO HQ essay entitled "Nathaniel Branden vs. Ayn Rand on Morality," which has sparked another volatile discussion. As Dennis makes clear: "Branden made this comment in the context of discussing David Kelleys decision to address a libertarian group ... It is clear that Branden was using this quote to express his admiration for Kelleys decision, because Kelley saw that 'libertarians often supported their position with aspects of [Ayn Rands] philosophy, without necessarily subscribing to the total of Objectivism.'"

It's not my desire to re-open that tired, old thread over the appropriateness of speaking before libertarian groups; it depends on the group, of course, but I'd be the last one to object in principle, since I consider myself a (small-l) libertarian, and I have always believed that Rand herself was, in the sphere of politics, a (small-l) libertarianfor the same reason she was an "egoist" in ethics, despite sharing that label with Nietzsche and Stirner, for example, to whom she was profoundly opposed. (I have discussed these issues many times; see here, which, for nonmembers of the Branden Yahoo group, is referenced here; also see here.)

What I'd like to focus on, however, is that Talmudic expression. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Talmudic scholar or rabbi, though I've read the Bible from cover-to-cover. I do like what Adam Reed says here:

I looked up "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy" in the Talmud. I would have translated it as "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an opponent," because it is in the context of "makhlokhet l'shem shamaim," which in the context of the quote means "conflict between good and good." I suppose that Ayn Rand may have known of it, because in the social context that is what her heroes wind up doing. Kira turns opponent Andrei to her side, eventually. Roark turns "enemies" Dominique, and in a sense Wynand, to his. Francisco turns Rearden, and Galt turns Dagny.

Whatever the precise translation of the statement, it has had some personal significance for me. I cite it in a recent interview conducted by Sunni Maravillosa at Sunni's Salon. On this page and this page of the interview, I state the following:

I guess I've always operated also on what I call the "rose petal assumption." A friend of mine once observed that I was the kind of person who would find the one rose petal in a pile of manure. Instead of calling the whole thing crap, I'm busying myself searching for that rose petal, and sometimes getting pretty dirty in the process. But, the truth is, I do try to look for the good in people, even in my critics; I try to appeal to the best in everybody. Perhaps I would like to embody that Talmudic expression that Nathaniel Branden has often highlighted in his work: "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy."
This strategy, however, which is built into my very soul, as it were, does not always work. Some people are just constitutionally nasty and mean-spirited and it doesn't matter how many nonviolent responses one authors. It never makes a dent. I usually give such people three strikes. I mean, it is possible that in the rough and tumble of give-and-take on any particular discussion forum that a person might occasionally lose their temper in an exchange, perhaps once or twice. But beyond that, I've learned not to be somebody's punching bag. I've gotten better at drawing and re-drawing that "line between valid criticism and a crank's ranting," as you put it. Most of all, I've learned to stop tolerating rudeness. I am willing to engage anybody on any issue, but the moment my interlocutor treats me with ridicule or rudeness or disrespect, I stop the discussion and refuse to enable or sanction such behavior. I have also noticed that when people engage in rude and disrespectful exchanges, the topic of the discussion soon shifts from a debate over substance to a debate over style.
I know that in the cyber-universe and in the blogosphere, in particular, it's not just pro-freedom individuals who are loose canons in this regard. I've seen that same level of negativity, anger, fear, and hatred on display on left-wing forums as well. As for those in our own ideological home being unable to deal with criticism in a constructive way, I can only say that there is only one way to create a civil discussion: acting with civility. There is simply no substitute for actually practicing the very virtues one claims to celebrate. ...

I then draw a distinction between Rand's practice and my own:

Rand ... often speeds to the bottom line of a judgment on, say, a particular philosopher, which seems to sweep away any and all complexities in that thinker's corpus. So, while I'm more apt to look for the rose petal, Rand is busy taking the hose to the manure. And that function is needed. But it's not easy to reach people working in other traditions if one always approaches them with the hose. Or the sledgehammer.

Now, let's just explore these themes a bit more.

The phrase"A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy" or an "opponent"has particular application to the context of civil and voluntary discourse and social relations. It has no applicability once the line has been crossed into incivility and coercion, especially coercion. Branden himself makes the point in a recent interview with Alec Mouhibian in The Free Radical. When the person you are engaging is quite clearly a "mad animal," such as a terrorist suicide bomber, the very last thing you should be doing is trying to turn that person into a "friend." As Branden puts it: "Theres nothing you can do except shoot him. ... [I]n action, one kills them, rather than getting killed by them."

As one who has spent some time trying to situate the whole post-9/11 world in a wider context that takes account of the evolution and structure of U.S. foreign policy, I have frequently made a very clear distinction between "explanation" and "justification." One can look to the past history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East as one factor in the modern development of fanatical Islamic fundamentalism; but an explanation of its development, or even of its goals, is not the same as a moral justification for the actions of those particular Islamic terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 civilians on September 11, 2001.

There is only one appropriate response to those who have destroyed life, liberty, and property: Justice. And justice demands that one act in self-defense against those who violate individual rights.

Quite clearly, then, the Talmudic expression applies to genuinely human social relations. It is not a pact of appeasement between those who live according to human standards and those who adopt the barbarism of the jungle.

The Rose Petal Assumption has allowed me to reach out to my critics and my intellectual adversaries in a spirit of rational, civil engagement. It is not a license or a sanction for rudeness or ridicule. It is not a license or a sanction for the violation of individual rights. Those who are rude are not entitled to civility; in my view, they're not even entitled to a reply, except perhaps "But I don't think of you." And those who violate rights are not entitled to the sanction of those whose rights have been violated.

Comments welcome.

August 22, 2005

Dualism: A Difference With Distinction

The chat continues between Geoffrey Allan Plauche, Billy Beck, and me. Billy had originally questioned the very use of the word "dualism" to describe what he believes is mere "difference." He writes here:

What's with all this "dualism"? I'd wondered how they (Chris Sciabarra and Plauche) were using the term, starting with a review of Anaxagorean split of mind and matter. No; I conclude that they're talking about little more than definitions. In his fifth paragraph, Plauche recaps relations among various "monopolistic institution[s]" (what Plauche correctly spikes as Rand's "definition" in his third paragraph), but all this is really only different arrangements of the same basic thing. It's not about "types"; it's about the degree of application of the basic thing. Now; if we want to call it "dualism" to properly identify two different things and scrupulously discriminate between them, then I guess it's okay, but everybody should bear in mind that that's what it means.

Billy takes it one step further with these comments here:

On "dualism": Geoffrey says (quoting Chris Sciabarra, I'm pretty sure, but I think he missed the opening punctuation) that it is "an orientation toward analysis by separation of a system's components into two spheres." He continues diligently and you should go read it. I do understand that technical philosophynot cracker-barrel jaw-boningmust keep certain standards of concept and referent that are generally alien around the cracker-barrel, but I cannot understand why the plainly simple concept of "difference" would not suffice: it is what it is (which is: understanding that a thingmaterial, conceptual, whatever: the referent at issueis not what it ain't and cannot be substituted for with what it ain't), and I, for one, don't see a call for Rube Goldberging structures around "methodologies" when the Law of Identity not only works, but should be endorsed as effective at every turn throughout this currently advancing Endarkenment. K.I.S.S., fellas.

Anticipating the distinction between mere "difference" and "dualism," Geoffrey answers a query from John T. Kennedy, who asks: "Is the True/False dichotomy an example of dualism?" Geoffrey writes:

Nope. Not every dichotomy is a false dichotomy, and often it depends on the context. However, a dualist methodology encourages the creation and/or acceptance of false dichotomies. ... I should add that a dualist methodology will tend to lead one to drop or overlook at least part of the full context of a given phenomenon which will make it difficult if not impossible to identify and analyze it correctly, and failing to identify and analyze the phenomenon correctly will tend to result in any subsequent action/policy/solution being at least partially incorrect.

Everything that Geoffrey says here is accurate, from my perspective.

Let's backtrack a bit to clarify why we need the concept "dualism," rather than the concept "difference" to describe what are essentially "false alternatives."

In the above post, Billy mentions the Law of Identity. Let us recall Aristotle's first formulation of the law of noncontradiction (noncontradiction, excluded middle, and identity, being the first laws of logic):

[T]he most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken. ... It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject in the same respect ... It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration refer it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms. (Metaphysics 4.3.1005b17-33)

In essence, Aristotle is telling us that A cannot be A and not-A, at the same time and in the same sense. That's a crucial italicized proviso, especially for those who seek to deny the law by introducing a temporal element or by viewing A from a different perspective or relationship, and who declare that A is somehow "different" than what it is, that A is not-A.

Well, we can and should accept this fundamental law. And since Aristotle presents the law as both a law of being and a law of thought, that is, as both an "ontological" and a "logical" principle, it is clear that identity implies "difference," and that there is a "difference" therefore between "A" and "not-A."

But there are "different" kinds of "difference." There are certain differences that are differences within a unity; Aristotle called some of these "correlatives." Such differences must be viewed in their indissoluble relationships; any attempt to create a mutual exclusivity between such terms does violence to the meaning of each, since the definition of each depends upon its relationship to the other. Here is Aristotle again:

For example, if a slave is spoken of in relation to a master, then, when everything accidental to a master is stripped offlike being a biped, capable of knowledge, a manand there is left only being a master, a slave will always be spoken of in relation to that. For a slave is called slave of a master. (Categories 12.7.7a35-39)

So, it is not good enough to say that there is a "difference" between master and slave, as if these are simply in "logical" contradiction to one another. Strictly speaking, in actuality, they are not logical opposites, like "true" and "false," but relational opposites. G. W. F. Hegel would pick up on this theme in later years, in his own discussion of "master" and "slave," which Robert Heilbroner has rendered into more understandable English than anything Hegel ever wrote:

[T]he point is that a Master is a being who can only be defined or described by using a concept that is its meaningful opposite or negation. Without Servants there are no Masters, and vice versa. ... The logical contradiction (or "opposite" or "negation") of a Master is not a Slave, but a "non-Master," which may or may not be a slave. But the relational opposite of a Master is indeed a Slave, for it is only by reference to this second "excluded" term that the first is defined.

This principle actually has revolutionary political implications that have been noted variously by thinkers as diverse as Hegel, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand: The revolution consists not in a Slave becoming a Master or a Master becoming a Slave, but in stepping outside this whole relational dynamic. Rand understood, for example, that the independent individual is one who is neither master nor slave, one who neither demands nor provides sacrifices.

In Randian language, the fallacy of dualism is, in essence, the fallacy of "false alternatives." It might be said that a dualist looks at all distinctions as if they are logical opposites, rather than relational opposites. This has the effect of rigidifying all opposites as if they are stark "black-and-white" choices, rather than relations within a unity or terms or philosophic stances united by some common (false) premise. The dualist sees mind and body as fundamentally opposed, for example, rather than as part of some organic unity. The oppositions that emerge from this dichotomy are legion:

mind-body
ideal-material
reason-emotion
fact-value
moral-practical
theory-practice

... and so on ...

Now, in the history of philosophy those who adopt methodological "monism" do so as a way of resolving the "false alternatives" that have been posited by dualists. But these "monistic" solutions don't seek some "fuller context" within which to understand false alternatives; rather, they simply emphasize one pole of a duality to the detriment of the other pole, and the dominant pole becomes the means of "resolving" the dualism. That's the methodological pretext at work in the oppositions that one finds between

Materialism and Idealism
Intrinsicism (or what was known as "classical objectivism") and Subjectivism
Rationalism and Empiricism

... and so on ...

So, to repeat: "Dualism" is used to describe a specific kind of difference.

Now let's remember that dialectics is the "art of context-keeping." When I speak of a "dialectical" resolution of a false alternative, I am speaking of one that highlights the larger context within which to understand oppositions that are, in fact, relational, rather than logical. That's why it is an obscenity when conventional defenders and critics of dialectical method have attacked its relationship to the law of noncontradiction. As I put it in my book, Total Freedom (I have dropped the footnotes and references for now):

All concepts of method presume the validity of logic. We cannot even think about the world without adhering to the fundamentals of logic, which are as much about being as they are about knowing. Logic is "the fundamental concept of method," a tool of objectivity upon which the theoretical and applied sciences depend. Objectivity entails a recognition of the fact that we can only acquire knowledge of reality by means of reason in accordance with the rules of noncontradictory identification.
One implication of this caveat is that dialectics, as an orientation, is not in opposition to logic, but rather is a fundamental complement to logic, and, as such, cannot correctly be said either to undermine or to "transcend" logic. The widespread failure to grasp this fact has resulted in the irony that dialectics has been as seriously jeopardized by some of those who have sought to preserve and extend it as by those who have endeavored to destroy it. Those so-called dialectical theorists who champion dialectics as "superior to" logic fail to appreciate logic as the foundation of knowledge, an undeniable constituent of all concepts of method. Those who refer to dialectics as being "transcendent of" the axiomatic laws of noncontradiction, excluded middle, and identity are thus speaking nonsense every bit as much as those who claim that dialectics is destructive of those laws. Defending the rightful status of dialectics as a methodological or research orientation is thus made doubly difficult, because those most in need of keeping logic foundational to their dialectical inquiries do not think they need to, while those most capable of showing that logic is foundational to dialectics think that dialectics is antithetical to logic. Logic and dialectics are mutually implied: just as logic is the art of noncontradictory identification, dialectics is the art of context-keeping, and both arts entail various techniques for achieving these mutually reinforcing goals.

How all of this relates to the debate between libertarian anarchists and minarchists is discussed in my book Total Freedom. Since this whole discussion between Geoffrey, Billy, and me began with the question of anarchism, I'll relate these thoughts to that debate.

I think one of the fundamental questions one must ask, and answer, is this: Is the distinction between "market" and "state" a logical one or a relational one? Is there some sense in which it is both logical and relational? I think anarchists and minarchists provide different answers to these questions.

I think on one level, there is clearly a logical difference between the "market" and the "state" insofar as these institutions rely upon fundamentally different principles of organization. The former is based on voluntary exchange, the latter relies upon the initiation of the use of force.

But, on another level, for me, the really interesting questions focus our attention on the historical relationship between markets and states. Here is how I put it in my discussion of the work of Murray Rothbard in Part Two of Total Freedom:

Rothbard's persistent description of the state as an "external" intrusion, however, obscures the "multiplier effect" of state interventionism. Since each intervention engenders another, having multiple, and often unforeseen, social and historical consequences, it seems extremely difficult, if not impossible, causally to trace every consequence to either the market or the state. No theorist has such an omniscient view of social evolution. Though logic suggests that predation is a parasite upon production, evolution entails reciprocal patterns of development. The state may depend upon social production for its survival, but it sets the parameters within which social production has functioned. Indeed, the historical development of the interventionist economy has so deeply affected every social practice that it may be impossible to separate market and state influences cleanly. Each sphere is in a dynamic interrelationship with the other. Each sphere permeates the other. And if the very existence of the state constitutes "intervention," as anarchists claim, then the market has always existed within the parameters of state involvement. This includes a statist legal structure that defines the very form of property relations in a way that differs significantly from Rothbard's quasi-Lockean theory of "just acquisition." Will not the market continue to reproduce the injustices of state-influenced property distributions? Moreover, if individuals exist in a concrete historical context, and this context has always been tainted by "coercive" elements, how is it possible to create an accurate balance sheet by which to evaluate who is a producer and who is a parasite?

I concretize this abstract discussion by reference to an historical concrete:

These rigid distinctions create problems for individuals living in today's world. R. W. Bradford conceptualizes the difficulty, in a discussion of the Randian argument that those who receive benefits from government or who take public jobs are "morally justified" only if they regard these as "restitution," while those who advocate for such benefits "have no right to them." As the public sector crowds out the private sector, it is self-defeating for libertarians to become martyrs, while ceding to the profiteers of statism all the alleged benefits of the system. Rands only warning to prospective public sector employees is that they ought not to take jobs that bolster statism ideologically or that require the enforcement of "improper" laws, i.e., laws that violate individual rights per se. Like Rand, Rothbard argues that in a state-run world one should "work and agitate in behalf of liberty," "refuse to add to [the world's] statism," and "refuse absolutely to participate in State activities that are immoral and criminal per se." When one realizes that, for Rothbard, the very existence of the state is criminal, one begins to grasp the significant problems. For as Bradford observes, it is often difficult to evaluate the propriety of jobs or benefitspublic or privateunder statism. Recalling the Ruby Ridge conflict, he reasons: "Sure, its easy to see that, say, the FBI murder of Vicki Weaver while she held her baby in her arms in the doorway of her home is an 'improper' function of government." But he wonders:
. . . what about the secretary who helps the FBI agent, who killed Mrs. Weaver, with his paperwork? Is his job also improper? What about the cook in the FBI cafeteria? Is his? And what about the person who hauls the trash from the FBI headquarters? Does it make a difference if the trash hauler or the cook work for a private firm that contracts with the FBI? I suspect that Rand, and most libertarians, would reply that these tasks are peripheral to the murder of Mrs. Weaver, and that the person who prepared the FBI agents lunch is not acting improperly. . . . But this doesnt really answer the question of where exactly the boundary between proper and improper action lies.
Bradford emphasizes that, while the inner contradictions and crimes perpetuated by statism are omnipresent, our evaluation of moral action in that context requires a precise understanding of the particular conditions within which a given person acts. One can only determine the propriety of an action by factoring into one's evaluation such important issues as people's knowledge of the situation, their causal distance from the crime committed, the enormity of the crime, and the mitigating circumstances. Without taking these important qualifications into account, libertarians might gain "credibility" for adhering strictly to their own principles. But such adherence translates into a rationalistic application of dogma that comes "at the price of human suffering."

There is a lot to digest in this post. But I do believe that this whole discussion of "dualism" is not simply a floating abstraction on the level of what Billy calls "terminographologicality." It is a discussion that has real social and political implications. How we organize the data of our world will affect the strategies we adopt when we attempt to change that world fundamentally.

Comments welcome.

August 18, 2005

My Interview at Sunni's Salon

The tenth anniversary celebrations continue this afternoon with the publication of my interview at Sunni's Salon. I have known Sunni Maravillosa for a long time, and she's a total sweetheart. Her interview of me is comprehensive, wide-ranging, sometimes intimate, and always entertaining.

The 8-page interview starts here.

Comments welcome.

Ten Years After, Take 2

On this date, ten years ago, my book Marx, Hayek, and Utopia was published by the State University of New York Press. The book is near and dear to my heart because it was the very first book I ever wrote, a derivative of my doctoral dissertation that became the first installment of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy." As I stated in my "Ten Years After" article:

Marx, Hayek, and Utopia was first accepted for publication in 1989 by a West German publishing house, Philosophia Verlag, which eventually went bankrupt. I took back the rights to the book and eventually secured a contract with the State University of New York Press, which published it as part of its series on the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. By the time it appeared in the same August 1995 week as my second book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, Germany had become a united country.

Reminiscing about all this, ten years after, I have posted several times this past week at SOLO HQ. (Readers can follow that discussion here, here, and here.)

Today, in fact, at SOLO HQ, Edward W. Younkins publishes a version of an earlier review he did of my book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. He mentions in his review that while I offer an interpretive, methodological, and historical discussion, I don't offer my own substantive "dialectical-libertarian" social theory. Here, I make two brief points in response:

1. It is true that I didn't develop a formal "Sciabarraian" dialectical social theory in my trilogy, but there is an implicit parallel of sorts, between my own work and the work of somebody like Isaiah Berlin. Now, I'm not comparing myself to Berlin (some love him, some hate him) or to Berlin's history of voluminous writing. Moreover, I disagree with a lot of what Berlin has written.
But something of Berlin's "approach" was imparted to me through my Marxist mentor Bertell Ollman, who was himself taught by Berlin. One of the things I learned was that if I wanted to do intellectual history, I could express my own substantive views through my interpretation of the views of others. While my trilogy does not offer a substantive social theory, it is interpretive, methodological, and historical, and one can glean where I stand by the enthusiasm that I bring to my reconstruction of [, for example,] Rand's "tri-level model" (in Part Three of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical) and of Rothbard's "structural" critique (discussed in Chapter 7 of Total Freedom).
2. I think of my own essays on domestic and foreign policy as applications of the tri-level Randian model that I discuss in Russian Radical, and that I endorse, while being fully cognizant of important insights from other theorists as well (including Menger, Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard). Some day, when I finish a whole host of planned articles, I hope to return to the enunciation of a more formal "Sciabarraian" social theory. But before I can do that, I need to work on a much more accessible exposition of dialectical method. Though I defend my own ability to speak "Polish," as Linz has put it (that is, to situate myself in some very technical contemporary debates on methodology), I also believe that the time is ripe for extended essays on "The Art of Context-Keeping"essays that not only present "Dialectics for Dummies" (so-to-speak), but that integrate and illustrate the concrete practice of the art.

Here, I have more to say not only about this issue of speaking "Polish," that is, of speaking a technical language in books that are aimed at a technical audience (at least partially), but also about the larger issue of civility in public discourse:

I, personally, have engaged in what I view as very strong criticisms of other's works. Take a look at my critique of James Valliant's book, for example. I'm not going to re-open the substance of that debate on this thread. But if I'd called Valliant a "maggot" because I disagreed with him, what would it have achieved? We would have spent hours upon hours upon hours debating the style of my essay, rather than its substance.
An interview conducted by Sunni Maravillosa goes up later today where I expand on these themes. I'll post the link later. But as I say there, "when people engage in rude and disrespectful exchanges, the topic of the discussion soon shifts from a debate over substance to a debate over style."
Now, I'll admit that Linz has a nice Goldwater-tinged maxim in his essay from yesterday:
"Civility in the face of evil is no virtue; rage in the face of nihilism is no vice.
People who have seen me post to SOLO HQ have surely seen that I get passionate about many issues. Take a look at former discussions here of everything from homosexuality to foreign policy. But there comes a point where I move on. Just because I have serious disagreements with somebody does not mean that I have to revel in that topic for eons, spewing the newest, freshest insults I could come up with. That's just not me. It's not even a difference between a "public Chris" and "private Chris." It's not that I think one thing privately and say another publicly. I am usually unwilling to throw epithets around on SOLO HQ because I don't see the point of making the style of my exposition the center of the debate, thereby detracting from the substance of my points. It's as much a tactical decision as it is an expression of who I am.

Readers who doubt that should simply read Notablog more regularly; the discussions here that have been most contentious never go "off the rails." I expect my readers and posters to adhere to a certain tone in my home, and I lead by example.

More from my SOLO HQ post:

But few people ever walk away from a dialogue with me wondering about that substance. People know where I stand on a subject, whether it be the Iraq war, dialectics, feminism, homosexuality, or countless other topics.
None of this means that I'm not entertained by other people's diametrically opposed styles. Vive la difference! I have been entertained, plenty of times, by people (like Jeff), who can use satire and parody in devastating ways. And I may not like it when Linz throws certain epithets in my direction, but he can sometimes be very effective in the style that comes naturally to him.
And let me state this for the hearing of the world: I have actually learned from Lindsay Perigo. Horrors! There is a distinctive difference between the style of my academic work, which enters into very technical scholarly debates over methodology and epistemology, since it is addressed to a very specific audience, and the style of my essays for The Free Radical, which is more accessible. Linz has helped me to tap into my Inner Pit Bull on many an occasion, in his editorial comments on my first or second drafts for TFR, pushing me toward far more colorful and effective communication in that context. But I stand by my ability to speak "Polish" (as Linz puts it) to the Poles because I believe that different contexts demand different approaches. They do not demand a compromise of the substance of my points. But they do demand that I take into account the interests, needs, and knowledge of the audience I'm addressing.
On these last points, see my essay: "Dialectics and the Art of Nonfiction."

I'll post the link to my exchange with Sunni Maravillosa later today.

Comments welcome. Also mentioned at L&P.

August 17, 2005

Austrians in Academia

At the Mises Institute site, Walter Block publishes a thought-provoking piece entitled "Austrians in Academia: A Battle Plan." In it, he makes a number of interesting observations about publishing prospects. He even mentions The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (to which he has been a contributor):

What about movement journals for Austro libertarians such as Journal of Libertarian Studies, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Review of Austrian Economics, Independent Review, Cato Journal, the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Advances in Austrian Economics, etc? (I call them movement journals because none of them is biased against Austrian or libertarian themes; indeed, the very opposite is the case).
If all of your publications are in these journals, e.g., you have none in any other refereed journal, the number of schools that will hire you will be limited. If you are aiming for a faculty position at an Ivy League school, you had better limit yourself to, say, 10% of your overall publications to journals such as these. The lower in (mainstream) prestige you go, the higher the proportion of such articles you can profitably have on your c.v.
Now that I have tenure, myself, I need not worry about such considerations, although there are still some slight pressures on me in this regard: if I want to be mobile, or get more of an annual salary raise, then I should look further afield for placement of my publications. As well, mainstream economists do not focus on these journals. If we want to have some impact on the profession at large, we should seek publication in their journals.

I think Walter is, of course, correct. I would hate to think that people in the academic profession who are interested in Ayn Rand, for example, would publish only in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (and Walter is right: JARS has published its share of Austrian theorists too). It is very important for scholars to publish work on Rand and on Austrian theorists in "mainstream" journals.

But the existence of "movement journals" is important, insofar as they advance scholarly study of the subjects in which they specialize. That study must proceed with established standards of double-blind peer review. In addition, such journals must gain greater visibility in scholarly abstracts and indices. That's one of the reasons I have been relentless in my quest to get JARS noticed; the journal is now indexed in CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, IBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), IBZ (International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, International Political Science Abstracts, The Left Index, The Philosopher's Index, MLA International Bibliography, MLA Directory of Periodicals, Sociological Abstracts, Social Services Abstracts, and Women's Studies International. It is also linked to many online guides and resources. And there are many additional professional indices on the way.

In any event, as I said, Walter's article is provocative and merits your attention.

Comments welcome.

An Interview, Conducted by Sebastien Care

This is a Notablog Exclusive.

In keeping with my tenth anniversary activities, I am interviewed today by Sebastien Care French researcher and Ph.D. in Politics, on the subject of libertarianism. Here's the link:

An Interview, Conducted by Sebastien Care

Comments welcome.

August 14, 2005

Ten Years After

On this date, ten years ago, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical was published. It was actually not "officially" released until the fall, but its arrival on my doorstep in 1995 was a moment of celebration for me. Russian Radical was actually my second book, but it arrived from the printer four days before the release of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (which was published on 18 August 1995).

This week, I'm celebrating "Ten Years After" the publication of the first two books of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" (which culminated in 2000, with the publication of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism). There will be articles, interviews, and discussions here and at various host sites.

Today, to kick it all off, SOLO HQ publishes an article that first made its appearance in print in the July-August 2005 issue of The Free Radical. (Subscription information for Free Radical is available here.) The article is entitled:

"Ten Years After"

Discussion is archived here.

Links to all of my previous Free Radical-SOLO HQ writings are available here, along with PDFs for many of my Free Radical essays, including the current one here.

Comments welcome here at Notablog, and at SOLO HQ, and at Liberty & Power Group Blog too (with L&P comments here).

July 28, 2005

Whetting a "Russian Radical" Appetite

The thread at SOLO HQ on the James Valliant book is now over 200 posts! While I decided to move on from the discussion, a number of points were made by a SOLO HQ participant dealing with my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. I intend to post a number of articles on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of that book in mid-August. My reply to the SOLO HQ participant is posted here. I reproduce much of it here for the benefit of Notablog readers:

My recent Free Radical essay marking the tenth anniversary of Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, will be published ... on SOLO HQ in mid-August. ...

James Lennox and Allan Gotthelf agree on many things; they have known each other for many years and they co-edited a book on Aristotle's biology. I respect their work in that area and have cited both of them in my own work. And David Kelley is also a fine philosopher, and I have cited his work too.

That doesn't mean I always agree with Lennox, Gotthelf, and Kelleyfar from it; nor does it mean that Kelley agreed with Lennox's review of my book simply because he published that review in the IOS Journal. In fact, Kelley went out of his way to sponsor a live IOS discussion of Russian Radical before it was published, and he also published a Roundtable discussion of my book after he published Lennox's review. He also made a number of very positive comments about Russian Radical at the time.

Understand, however, that if we are to judge the validity of an argument by the number of scholars who object to it, then Ayn Rand's work itself would be among the most harshly judged philosophies on earth.

As for other colleagues and professionals who engaged my work, take a look at my website and the various relevant reviews posted here and here. Those links include a full index of all the reviews of my work, some quite positive (see, for example, philosopher Lester Hunt's discussion). Also take a look at the endorsements of my book by such philosophers as Tibor Machan, John Hospers, George Walsh, and Douglas Rasmussen.

But this is not about name-dropping. It's about a fundamental divergence between Lennox and me on a number of issues, including the very meaning of dialectics. To a certain extent, I am to blame for some of the problems that emerged in the aftermath of the publication of Russian Radical, but it was unavoidable. The book was part two of a trilogy of books that aimed to reconstruct and reclaim dialectical method for a (small-l) libertarian social theory. So, the full reconstruction of the history and meaning of dialectics was not published until the final (third) book in my trilogy, Total Freedom. I couldn't reinvent the wheel in one, two, or three booksbut I sure couldn't include my whole take on dialectics in a book about Rand, even if such a discussion would have clarified the points for many readers.

In fact, I have heard from many readers through the years who have said, upon reading part one of Total Freedom (TF): "Oh! Now I know what the hell you're talking about!" And, in fact, when I teach my trilogy, I actually begin with part one of TF before getting to Marx-Hayek and the Rand volume.

Aside from that, all of the historical speculations that I made about Rand's formative influences were based on inconclusive evidenceas I acknowledged. But I was building an historical narrative, and each step of the narrative depended on the presumptions before it. The initial speculations I made concerning what Ayn Rand was actually taught at Petrograd State University have now been bolstered by evidence that is as conclusive as it's going to get. The additional Russian archival material that I uncovered over the past 10 years has, in the words of William Thomas, lent "far greater warrant to [my] historical hypothesis .... successfully exploit[ing a] line of research [that] bolsters [my] key claim of a link between Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky, his followers, and the young Rand."

Comments welcome, but as I say at SOLO HQ: "Let that whet your appetite, and just shelve this discussion until mid-August. As long as we can chat with civility, I'm open to any and all points of contention."

July 20, 2005

Reason, Passion, and History

Today, a Notablog exclusive is published: My comprehensive review essay dealing with James S. Valliant's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens (Dallas: Durban House, 2005):

Reason, Passion, and History

Comments welcome.

July 14, 2005

Paglia, Rand, and Women in Philosophy

Camille Paglia, who contributed to the anthology Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand, which I co-edited with Mimi Reisel Gladstein, has raised her voice in defense of women philosophers who were marginalized by a recent BBC-Radio 4 Greatest Philosopher poll that placed Karl Marx at the top. Paglia writes in The Independent:

For most of history, the groundbreaking philosophers have all been men, and philosophy has always been a male genre. Women had neither the education nor the time to pursue the life of the mind. ... Now that women have at last gained access to higher education, we are waiting to see what they can achieve in the fields where men have distinguished themselves, above all in philosophy. At the moment, however, the genre of philosophy is not flourishing; systematic reasoning no longer has the prestige or cultural value that it once had. ... Today's lack of major female philosophers is not due to lack of talent but to the collapse of philosophy. Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre. This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity. The web mimics human neurology, and it is fundmentally altering young people's brains. The web, for good or ill, is instantaneous. Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry.

Paglia is spot on with regard to a number of points here. Systematic reasoning is clearly at a disadvantage in a culture that embraces atomizing and dis-integration as the preferred mode of analysis.

But there are a number of women thinkers, says Paglia, who merit our attention. Among these: Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand. Paglia writes:

Both Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand, another favourite of mine, have their own highly influential system of thought, and therefore they belong on any list of great philosophers. Rand's mix of theory, social observations and commentary was very original, though we see her Romantic sources. Her system is broad and complex and well deserves to be incorporated into the philosophy curriculum. Simone de Beauvoir's magnum opus, The Second Sex (which hugely influenced me in my youth), demonstrates her hybrid consciousness. It doesn't conform to the strict definition of philosophy because it's an amalgamation of abstract thought and history and anthropologyreal facts. The genre problem is probably why both these women are absent from the list. But Plato too was a writer of dramatic fictionso that it is no basis for dismissing Rand.

It's a worthwhile read.

Hat tip to David Boaz.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P, where comments are posted here, here, and here.

July 11, 2005

Rand and Nietzsche

As readers of Notablog know, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies plans to publish a symposium dealing with Nietzsche and Rand. The symposium probably won't be published before Fall 2006 or Spring 2007. We have quite a few articles in the queue currently, including material in the next issue still celebrating the Rand Centenary, and an ethics-heavy Spring 2006 issue.

In any event, discussions about Rand and Nietzsche can be found throughout the web and in various publications. Today, I posted a brief comment to Libertas, the blog of Geoffrey Allan Plauche. Geoffrey plugs my work here and here, and I post my comment on Nietzsche and the Russian Silver Age here.

Comments welcome, but visit Libertas and leave Geoffrey some feedback.

June 28, 2005

Forthcoming Work

Readers may notice that I've had a lot of songs posted to my Notablog recently. I keep the music flowing, daily, even if circumstances sometimes get in the way of regular, more "substantive" posting (though I do encourage readers to take a look at my "Song of the Day" listings, like the one today that marks the Stonewall Riots.)

Among the circumstances currently preoccupying me: My editing of the Fall 2005 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS), which will include a new essay by me detailing the results of my investigation of new material unearthed from Russian archives on Ayn Rand's secondary school and university education. It is entitled "The Rand Transcript, Revisited," and is a sequel both to "The Rand Transcript" and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. And it has a few interesting historical curiosities and surprises...

It is only natural that I've been spending a bit more time on Rand Studies over the past year or so, given my own scholarship in this area, the Rand Centenary, the JARS Centenary issues (I and II), and the upcoming tenth anniversary (in August) of Russian Radical, for which I've authored several reflections that will appear in such publications as Liberty, The Freeman, and The Free Radical. Also forthcoming: my essay, "Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto for a New Radicalism," in Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, edited by Edward W. Younkins (Ashgate, Spring 2007); and my essay on "The Growing Industry in Rand Scholarship," in Philosophers of Capitalism, also edited by Edward W. Younkins (Rowman & Littlefield, Spring 2006). In addition, I've authored a brief encyclopedia entry on Rand for The Encyclopedia of the Counterculture and separate entries on Rand and Nathaniel Branden for The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Finally, I'm writing a rather comprehensive critical essay on James Valliant's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics; the essay, which will most likely be pubilshed in July as a Notablog exclusive, will deal with larger issues of historiography, biography, and Rand scholarship.

In the midst of all this, I've been interviewed by French researcher Sbastien Car, who is preparing a doctoral dissertation on the libertarian movement in the United States; Car has given me permission to post our exchange on Notablog. It will most likely be published here during the week of August 14th.

August 14, 1995 is actually the date that the second book of my "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, was published... ahead of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, which was published on August 18, 1995. It's a long story how this came to be; I discuss aspects of it in the various aforementioned reflections, which will be featured online in due course.

Other interviews are also scheduled, including one that will be published in Ama-Gi, the Hayek Society Journal of the London School of Economics. The interview, of course, is Hayek-centered, dealing with my own "dialectical libertarian" approach, which is the focus of the "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy that culminated in 2000 with the publication of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.

Other forthcoming publications include essays on "Karl Marx" and "libertarianism" that will appear in the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology.

Finally, for those who have checked my "Forthcoming" page, and who have asked me for a progress report: My research and study of Aleksandr Blok, the great Russian Symbolist writer whom Rand named as her favorite poet, is a long way off from completion. And my continuing work with Bertell Ollman on the history of dialectical thinking is ongoing. I don't anticipate any publication of either of these projects in the near future.

I want to thank my Notablog readers for their continuing support. I value the comments I receive publicly and privately. Given ongoing complications from a serious life-long illness, however, it takes me a bit longer to respond nowadays. Because of these limitations, I've cutback rather dramatically on my posting to other Internet and Usenet forums and other blogs. And I will be unable to offer my Cyberseminar in the 2005-2006 academic year. I hope to offer that long-distance learning class again at some point in the future, and will post an update when the time comes.

Just know that I'm working very hard and doing the best that I can.

Thanks again for your warm wishes.

Comments welcome.

June 16, 2005

Explanation v. Justification

Technomaget is "Reading Atlas Shrugged" again, and it led to a very interesting thread on compassion. I added my two cents in a subheading entitled "Explanation v. Justification," that uses Osama Bin Laden and Darth Vader as examples.

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the discussion at Technomaget's Live Journal.

June 07, 2005

Reflections on "Most Harmful Lists"

With regard to my objections (here and here) to Ralph Luker's placement of works by Ayn Rand and Herbert Spencer on a list of "most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries," reader Sergio Mendez, asks in this comments thread:

Ok Chris, but then why dont you show the same outrage with Freuds inclusion on Ralphs list? Was Freud a mass murderer like Hitler or Lenin? Arent his writtings taken VERY seriously, inspite of the hatred his works inspire on certain anglo saxon philosophic circles?

I took issue with the people and works on Ralph's original list who were from the libertarian orbitand with whom I was familiar. In all honesty, in all my years, I have read exactly one short book by Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents, and I'd hardly have considered that among the most "harmful" books. That, however, was not among the Freud books listed by Ralph. (It occurs to me that I probably need to get crackin' on that list of books over which I am supposed to be embarrassed for not having read, as suggested by Aeon Skoble and Will Wilkinson.)

Because of my unfamiliarity with other books on his original and revised lists (see here), I didn't comment. I try to work by a certain principle... not to comment about books (or even authors) one way or the other if I've not actually read them (or read them fully ... reading excerpts or dust jackets doesn't count).

In fact, I didn't comment on the Thomas Woods book (The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History) eitherwhich is very popular in libertarian circlesbecause I've not read it and had no way to offer any kind of assessment. So, clearly, my response was not "knee-jerk" in favor of all "libertarian" authors.

Still, I have a very real problem with this whole "ten most harmful books" list, as I stated at the outset. Now, it seems, on the various threads provoked by this listing (see here, for example), people are arguing over whether "harmful" is to be judged by original intent, or by the fact that the books have been "misinterpreted" or "misunderstood" in the wake of their publication.

And that is a very real issue, in my view. I have long held that there is a distinction between "intended" and "unintended" consequences, not only in a social context, but in a textual sense as well. (The study of the unintended consequences of a text has long been a focus of those trained in the methodology of "hermeneutics," which began in the realm of Biblical interpretation and scholarship.) No author can possibly know all the interpretations and misinterpretations, applications and implications, that might result from his/her writinggiven that the context of knowledge changes and that different people coming from different perspectives will engage that writing differently. This does not mean that "objectivity" is impossible in the assessment of a given work. It just means that as analysts, we need to be very careful to distinguish between original intent and unintended consequences (be they good or bad).

It also means that we are probably doomed to argue eternally about the legacy of any given writer. I've taken to arguing in favor of Ayn Rand's dialectical "radical" legacy, for example... but I'm also of the belief that there are nondialectical aspects in Rand's work that need "transcending," as it were. And, mind you, Rand is one of the more consistent writers; the problems of interpretation and misinterpretation are multiplied exponentially when we look at writers whose work is replete with "mixed premises." That's one of the reasons I would take issue with putting Nietzsche's books on a list of "harmful works"though I do this with full knowledge that misinterpretations are quite possible in his case, in particular. How much we "blame" Nietzsche for these twists and turns of interpretation is another question entirely.

I talk a lot about this in an essay sparked by a critical reading of my monograph on Objectivism & Homosexualityand it's why I've long taken to calling myself a "post-Randian." But I'm just as much of a "post-Hayekian" too. With all this debate, maybe my use of the phrase "dialectical libertarian" is best, after all. I discuss some of these labeling issues in a recent SOLO HQ thread here. In answer to the question "What do you call yourself?" I write, in part:

I voted for "None of the Above," though as Bill Perry puts it in response to Pete, at least in the current context "post-Randian" is good. I confess that I like Matthew Humphreys' suggestion about "Sciabarraite"... but that would make me the founder of Sciabarraism, whether I like it or not. How pretentious! hehe
I accept all the key fundamentals of Rand's Objectivism, but have gotten so tired of arguing over the meaning of Objectivisma debate which starts to resemble those over who is the true Christian or who is the true Muslimthat I just gave up. I've also taken to calling myself a "dialectical libertarian"... because I got just as tired arguing over who is the true libertarian. But that label has successfully alienated me from both "dialecticians" and "libertarians," and generally, people who have no clue what on earth I'm talking about. Ugh. I'm just doomed... hehe

Comments welcome. Noted at L&P.

June 04, 2005

Luker and Rand

Ralph Luker posts his reply to my criticisms of his list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. A few other people have gotten in on the discussion too, including fellow HNN'er Irfan Khawaja and Grant Jones.

Luker titles his reply, "Listmania and Maturity," and then goes on to express surprise at my use of the word "obscene" to describe his inclusion of Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead on a list that includes Mein Kampf and Protocals of the Elders of Zion. He also expresses disapproval of a comment left at my blog by Technomaget, who calls Luker, in no uncertain terms, a "moron."

Let me clarify a few things.

First, I am not calling Luker "obscene" and I have not called him a moron either. What I thought was "obscene" was placing a pair of works by Rand on a list that includes titles written by mass murderers. I use "obscene" as a synonym for "offensive" and find that particular coupling of Rand and Hitler very offensive.

If Luker had called his list a list of the ten worst books he'd ever read, or a list of the ten most annoying books, or the ten most useless books, or the ten most immature books, I probably would never have noticed it. But "harmful" carries with it a certain stigma, as I explained in my L&P/Notablog post. Strictly defined it means "causing or capable of causing harm." And on those grounds, I just don't see any reasonable criterion by which to equate Rand's novels with Mein Kampf. As Grant Jones puts it succinctly: "Has any reader of her works built Death Camps?" (brings back memories of Whittaker Chambers' cry, upon reading Atlas: "To a gas chambergo!") As we say here in Brooklyn: "Fuhgedaboudit! You gotta be kiddin' me!"

Luker states: "In a moment of weakness (it just seemed like years of agony), I read Ayn Rand and I don't worship at her shrine! My lack of admiration for Ayn Rand is well known." Well that's fine. I admire her work but I don't worship at her shrine either. And, again, I would have had little problem if Luker had simply said: "These books suck." But suckitude is not the criterion for "harmfulness," especially when one is drawing up a list of books that crosses the line into Hitler territory.

As for Rand's work being serious or unserious, I'm afraid there's nothing in Luker's post that would give me a clue as to the nature of his assessment. Luker may not like Rand's philosophy, but let me assure him that it is not a "so-called philosophy," as he puts it. It may not be a philosophy with which Luker agrees, but it's a systematic philosophy, with integrated positions in ontology, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. It is a philosophy that includes a commitment to realism, ethical egoism, individualism, and capitalism. And it is being taken seriously by people on every end of the political and philosophical spectrum, not only in the pages of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies but in a growing list of professional scholarly journals (see here).

If Luker would like to broaden his realm of toleration to include a few of us who were at least moved by Rand's work, let alone influenced, and who don't manifest "immaturity" or a "cult-like psychological disorder" or "delayed adolescent omnipotence," maybe we could talk more seriously. Ad hominem masquerading as psychological diagnosis is no substitute for discussion.

Comments welcome.

Cross-posted to L&P, and mentioned at SOLO HQ here. I also left comments in a thread at Cliopatria here.

Update: I'm glad to see a few comments here, but wanted to mention that Luker has raised a number of important questions that I answer here (see here, here, here, and here as well). I republish it here because I think it's worth repeating. Luker asked: "Do you object to the appearance of Freud on the list with Hitler? Harm is done in different ways and on different levels. I said that and, yet, the Rand defenders continue to act as if I didn't. Why the Rand defenders and not the Freud defenders or the Mahan defenders?"

I replied:

Ralph, let me answer that question; it's a legitimate one. If you had listed Mises's Human Action or Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, I would have had the same reaction, and not out of any desire to defend "sacred texts." And, in fact, I also defended Spencer in my original post, but that point seems to have been lost. Mises left behind his library to escape from Nazi tyranny. Both Mises and Hayek were furiously opposed to Nazism, fascism, communism, and socialism (though there are differences of degree, I think, between Mises and Hayek concerning their positions on certain welfare-state regulations). So, any list that would have included Mises or Hayek along with Adolf Hitler would have ruffled my feathers as well. (And, apparently, you cite fellow "Cliopatriarch" Hugo Schwyzer, who came up with an "if only" mock list of banned books, and placed Hayek's works on that list.)

Libertarians have been defending against the charge that they are apologists for fascism for eons now. In the light of the fact that many libertarian theorists have developed a radical critique of fascism and contemporary neofascism, the charge is especially nonsensical.

Still, certain writers have been trying to pull this slipshod intellectual package-dealing of libertarianism and fascism for years. I've heard the same refrain for so long but I've never become anesthesized to it. So I speak up.

Now it's true: You did not say that you were necessarily comparing libertarians or Objectivists to Nazis, and you've made it clear that "Harm is done in different ways and on different levels." But the lack of any stated criterion or any reasoning for the inclusion of Rand, Spencer, etc., left this reader with a big Question Mark as to the nature of your assessment. And since I know too many people who are ready to declare that Mises, Hayek, and Rand were all fascists anyway, I decided to blog about it.

If this makes me especially defensive because my "sacred" authors are being attacked... well, fine. But sometimes I find it necessary to speak up when positions are not made clear, and comparative implications to Nazism are left dangling in the air like some lethal gas.

June 03, 2005

The Fountainhead... Most Harmful?

Cliopatria HNN'er, Ralph E. Luker, gives us a list of the "Ten Most Harmful Books." I have to admit that I've got a real problem with the whole category of "harmful books," not because I believe that no book can do harm, but more because I think "harmful" comes with a stigma attached to it ... that perhaps such books should not be read. But it is the books that are most "harmful" that often require the most study.

Some of Luker's books are predictable: Hitler's Mein Kampf, Lenin's What Is To Be Done?, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and so forth. But on that list, Luker mentions Ayn Rand's two mega-novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Jonathan Rees chimes in and thanks Luker for including Rand on that list, since her books offer "a philosophical excuse for extraordinary selfishness."

Rand's work has been an inspiration to people of all different walks of life, including individualist feminists, libertarians, conservatives, and even a few liberals, those who see in architect Howard Roark, protagonist of The Fountainhead, an exemplary model of artistic integrity, self-esteem, and authenticity. These same liberals may not like Rand's advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism, but not even they would suggest that those who have emulated Roark will be predisposed to go out and blow up public housing projects.

To be fair, I personally know a few people who were deeply harmed by some of the more "cult-like" aspects of the Objectivist movement, and by some of the brutal comments that Rand made on such subjects as homosexuality. I'm not in any way belittling the real hurt and damage that some have experienced in that context.

But all this is a far cry from the mass murder of the Nazis, Soviets, and Maoists. If the most significant policy-maker to come out of the Randian movement is Alan Greenspan---who, himself, has departed fundamentally from his earlier Randian views in favor of the abolition of the Fed ... can't we have a sense of proportion here?

Even poor Herbert Spencer, whose Evolution of Society [ed: I was wondering about that title] also makes Luker's list, wasn't the "Social Darwinist" his critics make him out to be. Roderick Long, where are you?

Mr. Luker, at the very least, couldn't you provide us with the reasoning behind your list? Right now, I find it unreasonable. For this Rand-influenced libertarian scholar, I find it obscene, quite frankly.

Cross-posted to L&P here, and noted at Cliopatria here.

Comments welcome, but readers are invited to participate in the L&P and HNN discussions.

Rand in The Encyclopedia of New York State

My reference entry on "Rand, Ayn" has been published in The Encyclopedia of New York State, just out from Syracuse University Press. I have posted a background summary and an image of the cover and the article here.

I have several other encyclopedia articles on the way on Rand, Marx, and libertarianism; keep abreast of all things "Forthcoming."

Comments welcome. Noted also at SOLO HQ.

Update: See discussion at SOLO HQ here, where I state here, here, and here, among other things, my displeasure over the lack of capitalization of "Objectivism":

... when I submitted the piece to Syracuse University Press, I did, in fact, capitalize "O" in Objectivist. It is capitalized in all of my published work, and it is a matter of stylistic policy in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies to capitalize the "O"--so that we don't confuse it with the more generic "classical objectivism" in philosophical discourse, which Rand actually renamed "intrinsicism." Alas, I never saw proofs on this article---so that stylistic change was made without my knowledge, or approval. Small price to pay, I think.

History Matters

Rather than clutter up previous Notablog posts (here, here, and here) with endless updates, I'm republishing today's SOLO HQ comments (from here) as a separate entry.

This has been an interesting discussion for me, because I'm in the midst of writing quite a few articles on the occasion of the tenth anniversary not only of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, but of Marx, Hayek, and Utopia as well. Both books were published in August 1995, and revisiting these themes, which touch upon important issues in historiography, has been refreshing for me. The anniversary material will extend into the Spring of 2006, when I publish in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies an article revisiting the issue of Rand's college transcript based on ongoing archival research (which I have not yet completed).

Read on...

Continue reading "History Matters" »

June 01, 2005

Context Matters

The discussion of Rand's intellectual beginnings continues at SOLO HQ (previous comments are here and here). In response to various comments by Rick Giles, I reproduce my post below. Its theme: Context matters.

Continue reading "Context Matters" »

May 31, 2005

Fear and the Sith Sense

Every so often, they let me out of this joint to go see a film or maybe a ballgame. Yesterday, it was time for a movie.

Having seen all previous five films in the "Star Wars" franchise, my natural curiosity to see the final film has been sparked even more by all the discussions I've read. Commentary by Technomaget, Ari Armstrong, Scott Horton, Anthony Gregory, Thomas A. Firey, Joe Maurone, and Ed Hudgins, to name a few, has been thought-provoking.

I don't want to argue about the relative merits of these commentaries. I just want to say that I genuinely enjoyed the film, despite the many mixed messages contained therein.

It helped that I chose to make the viewing of this film a grand entertainment experience. We went to the Ziegfeld Theater, which stands a few hundred feet from the original Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan. Understand that this is a theater; it's not some mutliplex with rooms no bigger than your living room. This theater has over 1100 seats and a real balcony! It features red velvet carpets and walls, crystal adorned chandeliers and relics from the Ziegfeld Follies, from the days of Sophie Tucker and Fanny Brice. All in all: a wonderful environment in which to witness a cinematic spectacle. The last time I was there was in the early 1970s when Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 epic, "The Ten Commandments," was re-released. I remember it well; we entered the theater to the soundtrack music composed by Elmer Bernstein, and sat in awe of the opening of the Red Sea.

The presentation of "Revenge of the Sith" was no different in form: We entered the theater to the triumphant soundtrack music composed by John Williams. And when the film began, the digital sound and picture were nearly overwhelming in their sharp clarity.

It's easy to fall in love with the dazzling special effects and cinematography, the terrific film editing, and that Williams score, which is relentless, playing like an instrumental opera as cinematic subtext, intensifying our emotions and the images on screen. As Anthony Tommasini puts it:

The whole "Star Wars" epic has been likened to Wagner's "Ring" cycle. In the earlier films Mr. Williams certainly adopted the Wagnerian technique of using identifying themes (leitmotifs) to mark the appearances of specific characters, symbols and plot lines ... In the new film, when Anakin is on the brink of becoming Darth Vader, you know what's coming, and it comes: the treading "Darth Vader" theme, as much a trademark of the "Star Wars" enterprise as Han Solo action figures. But in general, Mr. Williams uses the leitmotif technique with greater subtlety here. Hints of themes thread through the scorein inner voices, in wayward bass lines.

This is one of Williams's grandest, most accomplished scores. As an aside, I actually purchased the soundtrack before seeing the film, and was deeply impressed as well by the second "bonus" DVD disc, which I recommend highly. It is entitled "A Musical Journey" and features 17 "music videos," actually a series of montages that roughly follow the chronological arc of the story from Episode I, "The Phantom Menace" to Episode VI, "Return of the Jedi." It's a glorious primer for the "Star Wars" fan, a nice way of viewing the whole mythic story through music. And it's narrated by Ian McDiarmid, who once again plays the deliciously evil Emperor Palpatine.

But the heart of a film is not its special effects or its score; it is its script and its acting, and on these points, this film has problems not unlike some of the others in the series. Many critics have commented rightfully on the passages of "wooden" dialogue, and some have found Hayden Christensen lacking in his portrayal of the full range of emotions that the role of Anakin Skywalker would seem to demand. He's okay in the role, but there is an angst and a moral confusion that exist in the continuum between a smile and a scowl that seems missing (quite different from his more nuanced performances in such films as "Life as a House").

Nevertheless, I did find the story absorbing. Whatever problems Lucas has as a philosopher, there is enough in his film about the deterioration of principles in the act of "protecting" them that is of interest. For those of us who are especially concerned about the alleged trade-off between "freedom" and "security," in which an augmentation of the latter is often used as a pretext for the protection, and destruction, of the former, there are many lessons illustrated on screen.

A lot has been made of the fact that Obi-wan Kenobi, portrayed by Ewan McGregor, utters the baffling line that "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes." But the evil Emperor Palpatine accuses the Jedi of being just as "dogmatic" in their absolutes. So, from where I sit, it's a wash.

Even more has been made of Yoda's Zen-like advice to Anakin to resist the fear of loss, which is the path to the Dark Side. Of course, it is easier for Yoda to talk about forsaking the fear of loss, since he knows that in death, there is new life to come.

Still, there is something to be said about accepting both death and loss as part of life's natural cycle; it is not loss per se that is the problem. It is the fear of loss that often motivates people to forsake their values in an attempt to keep alive something that is threatened, or withering away. It's like that in love too, hence the old adage: "If you love somebody, set them free. If they come back, they're yours. If they don't, they never were."

I take Yoda's dissertation on loss to be something similar to that. And the insight that fear is at the base of the basest of human vices is a good one. This is something that I once wrote about on the Atlantis discussion list: "Star Wars' Yoda and Rand on Fear." In that post, reflecting on "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," I wrote:

Every so often, a few kernels of philosophic truth come blaring forth from the dens of pop culture, and "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," like other films in the George Lucas series, is no exception. Discussing whether young Anakin Skywalker (who shall become Darth Vader) is an appropriate subject for Jedi training, Yoda senses that the boy is filled with fear and even if he proves to be the "chosen one," there are too many unresolved contradictions and questions within his soul. "Fear," says Yoda, "is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to Suffering."
I thought this especially interesting since in previous posts we have discussed how fear is the "enemy within" (as the Rush lyricist Neil Peart expressed in three songs, the so-called "Fear" trilogy). Ayn Rand has had a lot to say about "fear"---in fact, I conclude the final chapter of my book, AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL, with a passage from THE FOUNTAINHEAD that has long been my favorite, and that centers on this very issue. It is a passage that other writers (such as Slavoj Zizek) have greatly appreciated. As Roark stands before a jury of his peers, ready to provide a defense of himself, Rand writes:
"He stood by the steps of the witness stand. The audience looked at him. They felt he had no chance. They could drop the nameless resentment, the sense of insecurity which he aroused in most people. And so, for the first time, they could see him as he was: a man totally innocent of fear. The fear of which they thought was not the normal kind, not a response to a tangible danger, but the chronic, unconfessed fear in which they all lived. They remembered the misery of the moments when, in loneliness, a man thinks of the bright words he could have said, but had not found, and hates those who robbed him of his courage. The misery of knowing how strong and able one is in one's own mind, the radiant picture never to be made real. Dreams? Self-delusion? Or a murdered reality, unborn, killed by that corroding emotion without name - fear - need - dependence - hatred? Roark stood before them as each man stands in the innocence of his own mind. But Roark stood like that before a hostile crowd - and they knew suddenly that no hatred was possible to him. For the flash of an instant, they grasped the manner of his consciousness. Each asked himself: do I need anyone's approval? - does it matter? - am I tied? And for that instant, each man was free - free enough to feel benevolence for every other man in the room."
I think Rand and Yoda ... recognize a great truth: the reciprocally reinforcing relationship between fear, anger, hatred, dependency, malevolence, and suffering. It is only by facing the root of fear and triumphing over it that one can begin to express the best within oneself.

Ironically, I had the occasion to revisit this theme of "fear" in my reading of James Valliant's new book, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Valliant reproduces whole sections of Rand's private journals, those notes she made when she was grappling with the painful collapse of her relationship with Nathaniel Branden. At one point, Rand places in quotes the comment: "Fear is the antonym of thought," and she recognizes that a person who is "totally motivated by fear ... is not motivated by the 'love of values.'" The only motivation for those who fear is "the desire to escape from fear" (see page 347 of the book).

In the end, whatever murky Yoda-isms Lucas ascribes to, I think he's put his finger on something very important. The whole epic can now be viewed from another angle, which does not obscure the clear line between good and evil as much as it captures the process by which good is lost, and by which it might be regained. "There's still good in him," says the dying Padme of Anakin Skywalker. And so the epic franchise becomes a tale of Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, who began as the "Chosen One," only to embrace the Dark Side out of fear, only to find redemption out of the courage to face the best that still lurked deep within him.

Be that as it may, Yoda still kicks ass as a Master Jedi and, like in the last film, "Episode II: Attack of the Clones," it's still worth the price of admission just to see him in action. And once you hear that deep breathing from Darth Vader, you'll know you've come full circle. Quite a Ring, indeed.

Comments welcome. Noted also at L&P in the comments section to Sheldon Richman's "Crisis, Leviathan, and the Revenge of the Sith" and Technomaget's Live Journal.

More on Rand's Development

The discussion on Ayn Rand's intellectual development continues at SOLO HQ. Today I posted additional comments here and reproduce them below.

Continue reading "More on Rand's Development" »

May 30, 2005

How Did Ayn Rand Become Ayn Rand?

At SOLO HQ, Phil Coates has raised a few issues about Ayn Rand's intellectual development. I replied to some of his questions here and here, and reproduce my comments here:

Continue reading "How Did Ayn Rand Become Ayn Rand?" »

May 26, 2005

The Ayn Rand Centenary: Taking It Personally

Another one of my articles marking the Ayn Rand Centenary was published online. This one was previously published in the April-May 2005 issue of The Free Radical and makes its debut on SOLOHQ today:

"The Ayn Rand Centenary: Taking It Personally" (A PDF is now available here.)

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the discussion here. (See also here.)

Update: I posted a comment in the SOLO thread here and here.

May 17, 2005

Of Podcasts and Periodicals

For all you Ayn Rand fans, a few tidbits for your education and entertainment:

Douglas Bass, who is an assistant professor in the Graduate Programs in Software at the University of St. Thomas, has posted Parts 1 and 2 of Rand's book, Anthem, as a podcast (which can be heard on your iPod or mp3 players, or as streaming audio). Bass uses an interesting soundtrack mix as well, featuring music-in-the-background from sources as diverse as Keith Jarrett and Brian Eno. Take a look at the various posts at his blogger site: "Belief Seeking Understanding Podcast." (Noted at SOLO HQ as well.)

Also, the newest issue of Aristos is online here. Notablog readers might be interested to know that yours truly is mentioned in the "Notes & Comments" section, on "Why Ayn Rand Matters: Some Surprising Views."

Comments welcome.

May 08, 2005

Taking the Ad Hominem Out of Art Appreciation

This morning, I made comments (here and here) on SOLO HQ, in response to James Kilbourne's essay, "Yes? No!" A long-time opera fan, Kilbourne gave a negative review to "Going For the One," an album by the prog-rock group, Yes. I responded:

Continue reading "Taking the Ad Hominem Out of Art Appreciation" »

May 06, 2005

Turning a New Leaf on an Old Discussion

Over at SOLO HQ, somebody resurrected a year-old thread entitled, "ARIans Strike Again: SOLOists Count Your Blessings." I made a follow-up comment on that thread, which is worth repeating here.

Comments welcome, but readers might wish to join the conversation at SOLO HQ.

Continue reading "Turning a New Leaf on an Old Discussion" »

April 28, 2005

Spencer, Long, and a New Encyclopedia

In light of all the good discussion on Herbert Spencer that we've seen here and here on L&P, I wanted to share some good news.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to do an encyclopedia article on "Karl Marx" for the forthcoming International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, to be published by Routledge. Amazingly, there was not a single entry offered for Herbert Spencer (who many view as one of the founders of sociology) or of any of the great classical liberals. I knew that Spencer had fallen out of favor with sociologists over the years, and that too many working in that discipline had a tendency to dismiss (wrongly, I might add) the work of classical liberals as somehow too "atomistic" and not worthy of the sociological imagination.

Whatever the reason, I was quite frankly shocked that nothing on Spencer, liberalism, or libertarianism had been scheduled for discussion in the encyclopedia. So, I asked the fine editor if he would be interested in one additional contribution from me: a general, broader piece on libertarianism, that is, on the relevance to sociology of theorists working in the classical liberal/libertarian tradition. The editor accepted my offer. And instead of writing a sole piece on Marx, I wrote two pieces.

The entry on libertarianism brought into the encyclopedia a discussion of the works of Herbert Spencer (to whom I devote much space, relatively speaking), Carl Menger, F. A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, and others.

I've just been informed today that the encyclopedia is due out in October 2005; I'll be sure to note it here when the time comes.

Thus, this is my way of thanking Roderick Long doubly: not only for his continuing work on Spencer, but also for offering constructive commentary on my essays before they were submitted to Routledge.

Cross-posted to L&P.

Comments welcome, or readers may join the discussion at L&P (where Roderick leaves a comment here).

April 16, 2005

JARS Plugs

I noticed that David M. Brown (at the LFB.COM Blog) has a few things to say about the current issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Check out "Rand Among the Austrians" and "Boettke on the Economics of Atlas Shrugged."

Comments welcome.

April 11, 2005

To What Extent Was Rand a Misesian?

Long-time Misesian scholar Bettina Bien Greaves has written a review of the Spring 2005 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium, "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians." The review appears as the Daily Article on the site of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Read the Greaves essay here. It is also linked at the Mises Blog here, with follow-up comments here. I've left one comment thanking Bettina, and mentioning Rand's marginalia comments on the works of Austrian writers.

Comments welcome, but readers are invited to join the discussion at the Mises Blog.

Update: This Greaves essay was also announced at L&P by Roderick Long here, leading to some good-natured chit-chat here, here, here, and here (where I post a few comments myself).

Musical "Purists" and "Impurities"

The discussion that began over Miklos Rozsa and Mario Lanza has led to further contributions from me: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

One of those posts is actually worth reproducing here at Notablog because it deals with important issues on the complexity of different genres of music (including jazz and film scores) and on the nature of artistic integrity. With the great violinist Itzhak Perlman and the New York Philharmonic performing a concert of "Music from the Movies" tomorrow at Lincoln Center, these subjects have a certain timeliness.

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Continue reading "Musical "Purists" and "Impurities"" »

April 09, 2005

Selling Freedom

I comment briefly at SOLO HQ on an article posted by Joseph C. Maurone, "Selling Freedom: The Choice of a New Generation?," which holds me up as "one of the premiere Objectivist proprietors..." I reproduce those comments below.

Comments welcome, but readers may wish to join the SOLO HQ discussion that begins here.

Continue reading "Selling Freedom" »

April 07, 2005

Mars, Venus, Earth

Robert Bidinotto's SOLO HQ essay, "Objectivism, Venus and Mars" has elicited quite a few comments. I posted a comment that makes reference to my own work on Ayn Rand, and the various reactions it has elicited among people with different "thinking styles." See here.

Comments welcome, but readers are encouraged to join the dialogue at SOLO HQ.

April 05, 2005

Rand Centenary Essay Republished

In "Celebrating the Year of Ayn Rand," ISIL has republished my Freeman essay, "Ayn Rand: A Centennial Appreciation." The essay is also available as a PDF here.

Comments welcome.

April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II Dies

My condolences to those mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. Whatever one's thoughts on organized religion, Catholicism, or the Pope's applications of Catholic doctrine, I think it can be said that this was a gentle man with guts, one who lent his support to such movements as Solidarity during an historical period that saw the collapse of Communism.

R.I.P.

Update: At SOLO HQ, I reflected on the Pope's passing, and in reply to Lindsay Perigo's own homily, "The Pope, Objectivism ... and 'The Best Within'." I reproduce those comments below for readers of Notablog. Also note SOLO HQ follow-up here, here, here, and here.

Comments welcome, though you might also wish to join the discussion at SOLO HQ.

Continue reading "Pope John Paul II Dies" »

March 25, 2005

The Costs of War, Part II

My post "The Costs of War" has elicited more than a dozen comments so far, and if there are any additional comments to be made, I will be sure to reply in that thread. But I wanted to take this opportunity to expand on the points made in the former post, since I have benefited from a good chat with an offlist correspondent on these issues.

Comments welcome.

Continue reading "The Costs of War, Part II" »

March 23, 2005

The Costs of War

Last weekend marked the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I have found myself thinking about the costs of the war, and of the many issues that war raises...

Comments welcome.

Continue reading "The Costs of War" »

March 14, 2005

New JARS: Ayn Rand Among the Austrians

Today, I've published on my website my newest article (co-written with Larry J. Sechrest), which is the Introduction to "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians," a brand new Ayn Rand Centenary Symposium in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. That article can be found in PDF form here (the abstract is also reproduced on my site here).

As for the new Spring 2005 issue of JARS (Volume 6, Number 2), it's truly a landmark anthology, surveying Rand's relationship to key thinkers in the Austrian school of economics, including Ludwig von Mises, Murray N. Rothbard, and F. A. Hayek. Here's the Table of Contents:

Introduction: Ayn Rand Among the Austrians
Chris Matthew Sciabarra and Larry J. Sechrest

Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises
George Reisman

Ayn Rand and Austrian Economics: Two Peas in a Pod
Walter Block

Alan Greenspan: Rand, Republicans, and Austrian Critics
Larry J. Sechrest

Praxeology: Who Needs It
Roderick T. Long

Subjectivism, Intrinsicism, and Apriorism: Rand Among the Austrians?
Richard C. B. Johnsson

Menger, Mises, Rand, and Beyond
Edward W. Younkins

Two Worlds at Once: Rand, Hayek, and the Ethics of the Micro- and Macro-cosmos
Steven Horwitz

Our Unethical Constitution
Candice E. Jackson

Teaching Economics Through Ayn Rand: How the Economy is Like a Novel and How the Novel Can Teach Us About Economics
Peter J. Boettke

Reply to William Thomas: An Economist Responds
Leland B. Yeager

Rejoinder to Leland B. Yeager: Clarity and the Standard of Ethics
William Thomas

For article abstracts, click here.

For contributor biographies, click here.

For information on subscriptions, click here.

Get your copy now; our last two issues are sold out, and this one, together with the Fall 2004 "Literary and Cultural" Centenary Symposium, is a keeper.

Also announced at the Mises Economics Blog (which features a few comments), L&P (see comments here), Ayn Rand Meta-Blog, SOLOHQ (see comments here), in addition to more than a dozen lists.

Comments welcome (but y'all need to get the issue if you really want to comment!).

March 10, 2005

Rothbard, Rand, and Revisionism

My SOLOHQ essay on Rothbard continues to make the blogosphere rounds. The Gods of the Copybook Headings mentions it, and Le Revue Gauche discusses it as well.

In the meanwhile, today, I posted yet another comment on a running Rothbard thread at SOLOHQ. In it, I discuss the revisionist historical ideas to which Rand and her early associates subscribed concerning the growth of the welfare-warfare state in general, and the issue of World War II in particular.

Readers may comment at SOLOHQ.

Update: I left another comment relating to what I believe are the central questions Rand would have asked of today's military actions: Of value to whom and for what?

March 08, 2005

Ayn Rand and World War II

The discussion over my essay on Murray Rothbard continues at SOLO; go here to trace the exchange or here for specific Sciabarra-related links.

My comment today, however, deserves special mention if only because it draws from a most interesting book by Robert Mayhew, entitled Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood. In the book, Mayhew examines briefly Rand's own objections to US entry into World War II on the side of the Soviet Union. I discuss those objections here and cite relevant passages from Mayhew's study.

Readers may continue to leave comments at SOLO HQ.

Update: I made additional comments here and here, and on another Rothbard thread here, here, here, and here.

March 06, 2005

A Primer on Murray Rothbard

SOLO HQ has published my brief discussion of the importance of a key thinker in the libertarian tradition: "A Primer on Murray Rothbard."

Also noted at the Mises Economics Blog, LewRockwell.com Blog (by Karen DeCoster), Cameron's Blog, and L&P (L&P dialogue can be found here).

Readers may comment at SOLO HQ starting here.

Update: Lots of debate on Rothbard and other issues at SOLO HQ. I comment here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, as well as here, here, here, and here, and, for the sake of frivolity, here, here, and here and here, with a serious comment about my links policy here; see also here and here, here and here for other Sciabarra references.

March 04, 2005

Spider-Man and Jesus

Some incarnations of classic comic-book superheroes are ... well ... classic. Thanks to Aeon Skoble at L&P for alerting us to "Spider-Man's Greatest Bible Stories."

Readers can post comments in an L&P follow-up here, where I remind readers of the Steve Ditko-Objectivism connection.

March 03, 2005

More Rand "Inside Higher Ed"

For the second time in a month, Inside Higher Ed mentions Ayn Rand. In this instance, Scott McLemee, in his "Intellectual Affairs" column, "This, That and the Other Thing," cites a comment I made at SOLO HQ on an upcoming volume by James Valliant, which features selections from Rand's personal journals. McLemee writes:

Perhaps the most incisive comment on the volume comes from Chris Sciabarra, author of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical and other studies. "Reading Rand's personal journal entries makes me feel a bit uneasy," he recently wrote in an online forum. "As valuable as they are to me from an historical perspective, I suspect there might be an earthquake in Valhalla caused by the spinning of Ayn Rand's body."

Readers may comment at the site of Inside Higher Ed. Also noted at SOLO HQ. And see here as well.

March 01, 2005

Changing Politics, Changing Culture

My pal, Cameron Pritchard, who has gone from opposing the Iraq war to favoring it (a condition that affects a growing number of New Zealanders), announced the beginning of his own blog here, for which I congratulated him here. Check out Cameron's Blog.

I had a recent personal correspondence with Cam about Iraq, the recent elections there, and Cam's own switch in position, which he credits to Christopher Hitchens. Given that Cam emerged from Objectivism, I found it interesting that he'd be convinced of the pro-war position by a neocon-ex-leftist.

Continue reading "Changing Politics, Changing Culture" »

February 18, 2005

Rand, Rozsa, and Romanticism

After the posting of my article on Miklos Rozsa yesterday, some nice discussion has continued at the Rozsa forum (where I posted on the subject of the current header) and at SOLO HQ. Feel free to continue posting comments at those sites.

And while we're on the subject of music, I'm singing "Happy Birthday to You" to my sweet friend Debbie. Love, peace, and happiness always.

February 16, 2005

Hayek and the Pitfalls of Rationalism

At SOLO HQ, I comment on Hayek's contributions to the critique of rationalism here, in reply to an essay by Edward W. Younkins, "The Road to Objective Economics: Hayek Takes a Wrong Turn."

Readers may comment at the SOLO HQ site.

Update: In addition to the archived discussion noted above, I make a point about Hayek's last book in a thread on "The Fatal Deceit."

February 15, 2005

Dave Weller on Rush

Dave Weller, who maintains a site of Rush Collector Resources, has written an essay entitled "A Farewell to Kings" that takes account of the scholarship on Rush and Ayn Rand published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. It's an interesting essay.

I have published two JARS pieces (referenced by Weller) on Rand and Rush:

Rand, Rush, and Rock

Rand, Rock, and Radicalism

This entry is also linked at the blog of Sunni and the Conspirators.

February 13, 2005

Boston Globe on "Ayn Rand's Campus Radicals"

Today, Christopher Shea has written a "Critical Faculties" piece for The Boston Globe focusing on "Ayn Rand's Campus Radicals," offering further evidence of the proliferation of Rand scholarship. He mentions my work and the work of other Rand scholars, as well as the important role of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He also cites a forthcoming JARS essay by Austrian economist and L&P colleague Peter J. Boettke. (My own site includes a Sciabarra-relevant excerpt from the Shea article here.)

I cite the Shea essay at SOLO HQ, Liberty & Power Group Blog, and the Mises Economics Blog as well.

February 11, 2005

Thoughts on "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics"

I have joined a discussion at SOLO HQ on a new book by James S. Valliant, entitled The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. Rather than reproduce my comments on "Not a Blog," readers can go to this article, trace the follow-up discussion here (it's long!), and read my own reflections here, here, here, and here. Also check out follow-up discussion here as well.

Readers may post comments on the SOLO HQ thread.

Update (1): This discussion has been noted by Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed: "Intellectual Affairs: This, That and the Other Thing."

Update (2): A SOLO HQ discussion of the book continues here.

February 10, 2005

Zizek Loves JARS

Some may take this as a sure sign of the decadence of a periodical, but I just wanted to bring this item to the attention of my readers. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is mentioned in an "Intellectual Affairs" essay by Scott McLemee for Inside Higher Ed: "Among the Randroids" (February 10, 2005). McLemee writes of the controversial Continental philosopher Slavoj Zizek (who has been featured in the pages of JARS):

Continue reading "Zizek Loves JARS" »

February 09, 2005

HomoRandian.com?

There has been a lot of discussion at L&P about a wide variety of subjects, and keeping up with it all is virtually impossible. I did note however that Bill Marina made the following comment in his Liberty and Power Group blog post, "Reflections on Homosexual Behaviors":

Continue reading "HomoRandian.com?" »

February 07, 2005

New Rand Centenary Tributes

There are a few new items on the Ayn Rand Centenary with a "Sciabarra angle." First, my review of the Max Steiner film score to the 1949 movie version of "The Fountainhead" has been published online. It appeared in the December 2004 issue of Navigator, a publication of The Objectivist Center, and can be read here. (I also note the review at SOLO HQ, which includes follow-up discussion here. See also the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog).

Second, my reflections on the Rand Centenary were also published in the December 2004 Navigator, as part of a forum called "Honoring Ayn Rand." I discuss "Ayn Rand's Radical Methodology"; this can be found by scrolling down here.

Third, my work has been cited in articles by Carlin Romano (in the Philadelphia Inquirer) and Cathy Young (in Reason magazine). Additionally, writer Scott McLemee mentioned my work in an NPR interview dealing with the "Life and Legacy of Ayn Rand." See here (and follow the links to an archived audio of the show).

Ayn Rand and Austrian Economics

I left a comment today at the Mises Economics Blog, in response to Stefan Karlsson's post, "Randians Go From Mises to Supply-Side Economics." In it, I refer to a forthcoming symposium in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, highlighting the relationship between Ayn Rand and Austrian economics. Larry J. Sechrest and I have written an introduction to this symposium (part two of our Centenary tribute), which examines the "anti-Austrian turn" among some Randian writers.

February 04, 2005

"Capitalism": The Known Reality

Reaching out to the Left has been the source of much good discussion at the Liberty and Power Group Blog. So I'd like to pick up on that thread, yet again.

Continue reading ""Capitalism": The Known Reality" »

February 02, 2005

Index to Essays on the Ayn Rand Centenary

Over the last few days, several of my essays have been published on the occasion of the Ayn Rand Centenary. Here's a convenient index:

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part I (L&P)

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part II (L&P)

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Conclusion (Not a Blog, cross-posted to L&P here)

Ayn Rand: A Centennial Appreciation (The Freeman, PDF version; also noted here by Sheldon Richman)

The Illustrated Rand (The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, PDF version; a promotional Free Radical piece on the JARS Centenary issues is available here)

Also, check out my Song of the Day for 2 February 2005, from the soundtrack to "The Fountainhead" (part of my "Film Music February" tribute).

This index has been noted at SOLO HQ, L&P here and here (see also here, here, and here), the Mises Economics Blog (in response to Roderick Long's essay, "Ayn Rand's Contribution to the Cause of Freedom"), Up With Beauty!, and Ayn Rand Meta-Blog

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Conclusion

In Part I of my reflections on the Rand Centenary, I discussed the growth of a veritable industry of Rand scholarship. In Part II of this series, I examined a particularly interesting example of "unintended consequences" in the intellectual history of our time: How Rand's ideas have influenced even those in the "counterculture" whom she would have disowned.

Popular Culture

Today, I'd like to expand on the previous parts by offering additional evidence of Rand's growing impact. The material here is excerpted from an introduction that I wrote to the Fall 2004 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies symposium on Rand's literary and cultural impact. The essay, "The Illustrated Rand," makes its electronic debut today as a PDF here. As I write:

Continue reading "Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Conclusion" »

Song of the Day #161

Song of the Day: The Fountainhead ("The Quarry"), composed by Max Steiner, is a highlight from this film score to the 1949 movie version of Ayn Rand's famous novel. Glenn Alexander Magee wrote the liner notes to this newly released soundtrack album. Magee quotes Christopher Palmer, who writes that this selection restates the memorable main theme of the score "on high violins, flute and vibraphone, with little harmonic or textural support other than the naturally reverberative properties of vibraphone, soft bass-drumroll and tam-tam. Their overtones, mingling and lingering in the atmosphere, complement director King Vidor's insistence upon the heat-haze and white chalk dust which permeate the scene" in which Dominique Francon (played by Patricia Neal) and Howard Roark (played by Gary Cooper) gaze upon one another from the quarry where Roark works. Smoldering, indeed. And what better way to celebrate the Ayn Rand Centenary, which is today! (See my review of the film score here.)

January 31, 2005

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part II

At L&P, I post a new entry: "Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part II." Be sure to check out the referenced article, "Rand, Rock, and Radicalism," a Fall 2003 Journal of Ayn Rand Studies contribution that is published on my "Dialectics and Liberty" homepage today. A PDF version of the essay is available here.

Update: See follow-up discussion here.

January 30, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer on Rand

Carlin Romano, who wrote about "the enduring appeal and controversy of Ayn Rand" in May 1999, has an essay in today's Philadelphia Inquirer: "Assessing Rand at Centenary." In it, he mentions my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, as a sign of increased attention to Rand in academia. I cite that passage here.

Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part I

At L&P, the first of several entries this week to mark a special occasion: "Reflecting on the Ayn Rand Centenary, Part I." See follow-up discussion here, here, and here.

January 29, 2005

Insides and Outsides

Arthur Silber posts a provocative essay, "Living on the Inside...and Living on the Outside." A summary of the essay appears at L&P, where I've left a brief comment on the issue of sympathy, empathy, and Ayn Rand.

January 28, 2005

New Free Radical Centenary Issue

Lindsay Perigo announced the publication of the new issue of The Free Radical, which centers on the Ayn Rand Centenary. Having assisted in the copyediting and proofing of the issue, in my capacity as Assistant Editor, I can say it's a good issue. I have a promotional piece on the two Centenary issues put out by The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (a PDF is available here); in fact, I'm just finishing up the final page proofs of the Spring 2005 issue of JARS, which is the second of the two Centenary symposia this academic year. Its theme is "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians." (Steven Horwitz mentions his own contribution to that symposium in his L&P post here.)

The new Free Radical also includes my tribute to composer Miklos Rozsa, which will be published online in due course.

Subscribe to The Free Radical here, and to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies here.

January 27, 2005

On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

At L&P, I recall Ayn Rand's words from 1946: "On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz." See follow-up discussion here and here.

Rand the Dialectical

I left a comment on William Marina's post, "New Biography of Ayn Rand," that highlights Rand's dialectical dexterity as a thinker.

January 18, 2005

Free Radical Rand Centenary Issue

Lindsay Perigo announces the forthcoming Free Radical Rand Centenary issue here. I've got a couple of pieces in the issue, including a synopsis of the two Centenary symposia featured by The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and an introduction to the life and work of composer Miklos Rozsa. The issue will be available soon. Subscribe here.

January 14, 2005

NYC Rand Centenary Party

I posted an update at SOLO HQ on the Rand Centenary Party planned for February 2, 2005. Check out additional information here.

January 04, 2005

"Positive" Rand Studies

A discussion about "positive" versus "negative" Rand studies has developed in a SOLO HQ thread to which I've contributed (again). Check out the comments that inspired my post here, here, here, and here, and then, read my comments here, here, here, here and here.

January 03, 2005

Rand Centennial Celebration in NYC

My pal (and unofficial event host) Don Hauptman tells me that a February 2, 2005 party (from 6:30-9:30 p.m.) has been scheduled in Gala Celebration of Ayn Rand's 100th Birthday. The venue is Porters, a stylish restaurant with great food in Manhattan's newly trendy Chelsea neighborhood. Porters is located at 216 Seventh Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd Streets).

Gourmet hors d'oeuvres will be served by uniformed strolling waiters. A selection of premium-quality red and white wines and a variety of soft drinks will be available. There will also be a birthday cake, served with coffee and tea. A souvenir brochure of little-known, unpublished fun facts about Rand and Objectivism will be provided exclusively to attendees.

Admission is $55 per person, including gratuities and tax. Laissez Faire Books is taking credit card reservations by phone at 1-800-326-0996 (or 501-975-3650), Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, by email, or by check through snail mail (payable to Laissez Faire Books, 7123 Interstate 30, #42, Little Rock, AR 72209; write "Rand Centennial" in memo line, include your name and the names of your guests, and an email address for confirmation purposes).

Reservations must be received no later than close of business, Friday, January 21.

Click here for more information. Email your questions to Don Hauptman.

December 29, 2004

Rousseau, Kant, and Rand

I posted comments here and here on a thread inspired by Lindsay Perigo's SOLO HQ essay, "Rousseau and Kant: Partners in Crime." In these comments, I address the issue of philosophy as both an adversarial and investigative discipline.

December 26, 2004

Ayn Rand Among the Religious

I posted a very brief comment to Neil Parille's SOLO HQ essay, "Ayn Rand Among the Religious."

Also left a brief comment on another SOLO thread here and here.

December 23, 2004

Debating Iraq

There's a lot of repetition of points from previous discussions in a recent Atlantis II chat in which I participated. Nevertheless, I've collected my various posts and reprinted them here for archival purposes.

I've also posted a brief comment in response to Arthur Silber's L&P post on Iraq entitled: "No Kidding."

December 19, 2004

What is Radicalism?

A very lengthy discussion about the nature of radicalism has developed from my exchanges with Michael Moeller and Roderick Long at L&P. Start here.

December 16, 2004

Best Wishes to TOC

I posted a brief note to Kernon Gibes' entry at SOLO HQ: "The Objectivist Center Moves to D.C."

L&P Discussions on Schwartz Continue

Objections to some aspects of my recent series on Peter Schwartz's foreign policy book continue; see my exchange with Michael Moeller at L&P: "Rand's 'Radical' Legacy??"

Ayn Rand's Contribution to Liberal Thought

The International Society for Individual Liberty is gearing up for the Rand Centenary, which it will celebrate with a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, 10-15 July 2005.

In the interim, take a look at Robert White's discussion of "Ayn Rand's Contribution to Liberal Thought," which mentions some Sciabarra scholarship on the topic.

December 13, 2004

SOLO Discussions Winding Down

Discussions at SOLO HQ on my five-part foreign policy series are winding down (I think). I have posted additional comments: here, here, here, here, and here.

December 12, 2004

Schwartz Discussion Continues

Discussion of my series on Peter Schwartz's foreign policy book continues here, here, and here, where I field questions and comments on everything from ARAMCO and libertarianism to the issue of colonialism.

December 11, 2004

Machan, Schwartz, and Foreign Policy

Part V of my series on Peter Schwartz's new foreign policy book has additional follow-up discussion. Take a look at this exchange with Kenneth R. Gregg, which discusses "Schwartz' Platonism" and the more context-sensitive foreign policy contributions of Tibor Machan. There's additional discussion here.

Also, check out this SOLO HQ discussion, which deals with rationalist tendencies in the writings of some Randians.

December 10, 2004

Peter Schwartz Series: Indexed

Readers of my five-part series, "Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rand's Radical Legacy," which critiques Schwartz's new book, The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America, can follow the links to each of the five parts with this convenient index:

Part I:
Introduction
Schwartz's Core Argument
Part II:
Foreign Aid and the United Nations
Part III:
Saudi Arabia
Part IV:
The History of U.S. Foreign Policy
Part V:
The Current War
The Folly of Nation-Building
The Inextricable Connection between Domestic and Foreign Policy

The series is also indexed at SOLO HQ, and includes further discussion at that site.

Each of these links has follow-up discussion, and I encourage readers to post their comments.

SOLOing

George W. Cordero writes a piece on SOLO HQ, "SOLOing," and I offer a comment.

Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rands Radical Legacy, Part V

The concluding fifth part of my five-part series has been posted to the Liberty and Power Group Blog: "Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rand's Radical Legacy, Part V." See also continuing discussion of Part IV, here, here, here, and here.

Update: Comments on Part V can be found in these threads: "Libertopia vs. positions on U.S. foreign policy," "Schwartz's Statism," and "Schwartz' Platonism" (which discusses the contributions of Tibor Machan, and here.

December 09, 2004

Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rands Radical Legacy, Part IV

The fourth part of my five-part series has been posted to the Liberty and Power Group Blog: "Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rand's Radical Legacy, Part IV." See also follow-up comments here, here, here, here, here, and here.

December 07, 2004

Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rands Radical Legacy, Part II

The second part of my five-part series has been posted to the Liberty and Power Group Blog: "Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rand's Radical Legacy, Part II."

See comments also in this thread: Randian Collectivism.

December 06, 2004

Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rands Radical Legacy, Part I

The first part of my five-part series begins at the Liberty and Power Group Blog: "Peter Schwartz and the Abandonment of Rand's Radical Legacy, Part I." And take a look at the follow-up discussion.

Also, check out the ongoing dialogue on SOLO dealing with "The Problem of Iran, Again." My newest contributions here and here deal with nuclear proliferation.

November 29, 2004

A Trio of SOLO Comments

I have posted brief comments on three SOLO pieces here, here, and here, on threads devoted to "Ayn Rand and Apriorism," "From the Horror Files: 'The Battle for Your Brain'," and "Atheism: A Question of Conscience."

November 20, 2004

Building an Incredible Revolution

Discussion of my "Rand the Incredible" post continues at L&P (see the various threads at that link) and also at the LFB site. I've also posted comments on David Beito's entry, "Fundamentalists Question the Rapture." See here, here, and here.

Today's new L&P essay extends this discussion of the relationship between cultural and political change: "Building an Incredible Revolution."

Update: Take a look at comments here.

November 18, 2004

Rand the Incredible

I write about "Rand the Incredible" in a post at L&P dealing with Randian ideas in a new animated flick, and in popular culture in general.

Update: Check out the comments here, here and here.

October 28, 2004

New Centenary Issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

As announced at SOLO HQ, L&P, the Ayn Rand Meta-Blog and a host of other lists, Volume 6, Number 1 of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has just been published. This issue is the first of two symposia celebrating the Ayn Rand Centenary (which is marked, officially, on 2 February 2005). It is entitled "Ayn Rand: Literary and Cultural Impact," and it features articles from such contributors as Erika Holzer, Stephen Cox, Jeff Riggenbach, Matthew Stoloff, Kirsti Minsaas, Cathy Young, Bernice Rosenthal, Alexandra York, and yours truly.

My own introductory essay to the current issue is entitled "The Illustrated Rand." It is a much expanded discussion of an earlier Atlasphere essay entitled "The Cultural Ascendancy of Ayn Rand."

Keep your eyes open for JARS's second Rand Centenary issue, which will be published in early 2005. It is entitled "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians," and will include contributions from Walter Block, Peter J. Boettke, Steven Horwitz, Roderick T. Long, George Reisman, Larry J. Sechrest, Leland Yeager, Ed Younkins, and others.

For information on JARS subscriptions, click here.

October 23, 2004

Ayn Rand and Unintended Consequences

In the light of recent discussion about the foreign policy positions of many Objectivists, I examine the topic of "Ayn Rand and Unintended Consequences" at L&P.

October 15, 2004

Another Comment on Cordero

I added another comment to the Cordero thread, focusing on the infancy of Rand studies.

October 14, 2004

George Cordero Hates Me

Stay away from SOLO HQ for a few days, and you're always in for some kind of surprise when you return to check it out. George W. Cordero wrote an essay entitled: "Why I Hate Chris Sciabarra & Barbara Branden." Call it masochism, but I just had to read the essay, and leave a comment for Doubting Thomas (my pet name for Mr. Cordero).

Meanwhile, I send happy and healthy birthday wishes to my pal, Chip!

October 12, 2004

Coming Soon: JARS Fall 2004

In a few weeks, the new Journal of Ayn Rand Studies will be published. It will be the first of two special issues devoted to the Ayn Rand Centenary (officially celebrated on February 2, 2005). This first issue is entitled "Ayn Rand: Literary and Cultural Impact." The second Centenary issue will be published in Spring 2005; it is entitled "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians." Fully detailed announcements, with information on contributors and tables of contents, will be published soon.

Meanwhile, a very happy and healthy birthday to one of my esteemed colleagues, a member of the JARS Board of Advisors from the beginning, and a great pal: Larry Sechrest.

October 11, 2004

Bias, Randian or Otherwise

In a comment added at the Rozsa forum, I address the issue of bias in my review of Cesari's biography of Mario Lanza, a response to points raised by writer A. Lee Hern.