Critics of Rand typically turn any conversation about her philosophy or achievements ? whether it occurs at a dinner table or at an academic conference ? into an analysis of her allegedly “twisted” psychology. Their demeaning comments are based in large measure on the information and interpretation provided by the two Branden biographies. Through their eyes, Rand becomes a pathetic and deluded older woman whose self-declared rationalism cannot withstand being jilted by a much younger man. She becomes a callous, aging wife who forces her devoted husband to tolerate an affair that may have driven him to alcoholism.
In his Introduction to The Passion, Valliant pushes this phenomenon into the forefront as an explanation of why he believes a defense of Rand and “the affair” is necessary. ” He continues, “The root of this trend can be traced to two persons: Nathaniel and Barbara Branden.”
My point is not that Rand’s personal life or character should be whitewashed for the greater good; truth is the greatest good
In response to such personal attacks, Objectivists tend to distance themselves from Rand “the woman” before discussing Rand “the philosopher.” Or they defensively explain that it is an ad hominem ? that go to this web-site is, a logical fallacy ? to discredit the truth of a person’s statements by reference to that person’s behavior. The statements or philosophy are true or false on their merits. Both responses acknowledge the “truth” of the Branden’s accounts, however.
So far the world has heard only one side of what was essentially a messy divorce in both the personal and professional sense. But the uncontradicted account of “the affair” and break up has assumed the stature of fact and the account has severely damaged Rand’s intellectual legacy. To me, the real question regarding the appropriateness of releasing Rand’s voice is “why did it take so long?”
Second: the truth is important to those who admire Rand, especially to those who have been personally transformed through her influence.
At 15-years-old, I became an Objectivist through reading We the Living and, then, everything I could find by Rand. Her impact on my life was profound and benevolent. At 15-years-old, I needed a role model; I needed an ideal at whom I could look up and toward whom I could climb. The one-dimensional John Galt was a poor substitute for the flesh-and-blood woman who had created a philosophy and movement out of nothing more than her passion for ideas.
He writes, “Of greater concern is the more recent trend toward personal attack against Rand in order to dismiss her ideas ? and how often the philosopher’s sex life is brought up in discussions of her epistemology or political theory
I first heard of “the affair” in my early twenties from a second-hand rumor passed on by a friend. Years before, someone he knew had been asked to house-sit Nathaniel Branden’s house while Branden was out of town. The house-sitter grabbed the opportunity to go through Branden’s personal papers and spread the details across Los Angeles, eventually, reaching me. At that point, I had already developed significant political disagreements with Rand; specifically, I was a Rothbardian and an individualist anarchist. Rand had ceased to be a desperately needed ideal and, so, the impact on me was dulled.
But I’ve wondered how the 15-year-old I used to be would have reacted. I think the news would have been devastating. I also wonder how many other teenagers are deprived of the chance to use Rand as a role model due to accounts of “the affair.”
But if the facts have been presented incorrectly or in a manner that renders Rand pathetic, then I want the record corrected so that other 15-year-olds regain the opportunity to admire Rand both as a woman and as a philosopher.