Idle Threats

 Posted by on 22 February 2006 at 7:12 am  Uncategorized
Feb 222006

Casey Fahey just posted a long essay to SOLO examining a variety of attacks upon Ayn Rand. Of particular interest: The essay includes some lengthy quotes from people determined to defend Nathaniel and Barbara Branden at all costs, even in the face of the overwhelming evidence of their dishonesty presented in Jim Valliant’s The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. And so they fling whatever mud they can muster at Ayn Rand. Although I’ve seen more than my share of nasty attacks upon Ayn Rand from her supposed admirers, the quoted comments from Mike Lee are worse than I could have imagined possible. Also, Barbara Branden’s quoted comments are shockingly brazen lies. Her claim that Ayn Rand’s personal journals are “tragic and twisted” and revealing of “her profound repression” bears no relationship to those heroically honest and benevolent writings. And her supposedly grand revelations about Leonard Peikoff’s “love-hate relationship” with Ayn Rand bear no resemblance to the man either. Such inventions are to be expected from Barbara Branden, since that method of “Making Stuff Up Out of Thin Air” was so extensively used in her biography The Passion of Ayn Rand.

Casey briefly mentions Robert Bidinotto’s recent promise to reveal the “illuminating” history of “guttersnipes who fashion themselves as representing ‘true’ Objectivism.” Yup, he’s talking about me, among others. And boy oh boy, I’m just quaking in my boots! Or at least I might consider doing so just for fun, if I weren’t comfortably ensconced on the sofa. I do not have the slightest worry about whatever Robert might say, since the only great and shocking revelations he could muster would have to be figments of his own imagination.

Unfortunately for the conspiracy theorists, my disassociation from The Objectivist Center, condemnation of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, and the like happened for exactly the philosophical reasons I’ve reported. Contrary to the arbitrary speculations of some former acquaintances of mine, I had no hidden personal, financial, or psychological motives for my actions. Rather, I was deeply unhappy with the lack of concern for Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism in and around The Objectivist Center — and determined to understand its source. When I saw philosophic corruption at the root, I left. And since then, I’ve written much more on the nature and results of that philosophic corruption, both to understand it better myself, and in the hopes of explaining it to those who might be honestly confused by it. It’s all quite boring, really.

In any case, I’m certainly not worried about the possible revelations of a man who routinely avoids the trouble of rational argument in favor of these kinds of pathetic remarks about me:

Oh, I suppose I could have taken the occasion of my leaving TOC to do a bit of guttersniping. I have a blog, after all; and I might have followed the heroic path pioneered by one or two former TOC hangers-on, who have transformed their departures from TOC into Extreme Makeovers, crafting entirely new public identities and even forging new social circles from these episodes. Ah, the things some nonentities will do to acquire Significance…

That was, I believe, the very first gratuitous personal attack upon me in public for my departure from The Objectivist Center. And many ardent TOC supporters followed Robert’s lead thereafter. I must admit, I simply cannot rouse myself to take such personal attacks seriously, particularly from people who refuse to engage my arguments. They deserve nothing but mockery — and perhaps that’s even too great an honor.

You might notice that my dear friend Robert didn’t see fit to mention me by name in that little jab. That’s par for the course for him. In the comment thread on the post in which he promised to tell all about his critics, he had the following exchange with Bill Nevin:

From Bill Nevin on 02/13/06


While I unfortunately have neglected to defend you lately, I did post a defense of David Kelley today on one site that had attacked him unfairly.

Anyway, keep up the good work, good luck with your DSL problems, and give ‘em hell.


Robert Bidinotto replied:

From Bidinotto on 02/14/06

Bill, I saw your post on that Web site. I’m grateful. That particular guttersnipe’s response to yours was laughably lame, too. …

That’s obviously referring to the comments on this post, yet neither Bill Nevin nor Robert Bidinotto saw fit to provide a link to the discussion in question, nor cite it in any other way. They didn’t even mention my name.

In contrast, I am extraordinarily diligent about properly citing (via link when possible) the material that I criticize, even when that means sending people to organizations I abhor. (I even had a very aggravating back-and-forth on the topic of such links with a troll on Objectivism Online a few months ago.) I provide such links out of respect for my readers — because I would not ever wish them to accept my criticisms on faith, but rather to judge the matter for themselves. Robert Bidinotto doesn’t have such confidence in his readers, not such consideration for the requirements of objective judgment. In perhaps the greatest irony of all, he claims to be ever so worried to shield the delicate minds of young Objectivists from people like me. So in a comment on that thread, he says:

The problem is that younger kids come into this “movement” and get exposed to lies, distortions, and personalities that eventually turn them off. “If this is Objectivism,” many decide, “who needs it?” And who can blame them?

Objectivism holds far too much promise for the world that to let cheap pretenders sully its reputation in the courtroom of public opinion.

What a delightful rationalization! By that logic, I ought to remove all the links to his site from this very post! I shouldn’t even quote what he says, since some tender minds might be persuaded by his remarks. I’ll just summarize instead — or perhaps I should forgo even that in order to leave enough room for devastating counter-arguments like “laughably lame”!

In keeping with his reluctance to deal with actual facts by naming names, Robert Bidinotto did decide that he’d best stick to generalities by his last post to that comment thread.

From Bidinotto on 02/18/06

… The generalizations I aim to discuss are, most broadly, principles of ideological cooperation and association (the subject of my lecture at the upcoming 2006 Summer Seminar of the Objectivist Center). More narrowly, they apply to the issue of the various, ever-shifting “litmus tests” that self-appointed guardians of Objectivist purity devise to determine who is, and is not, a “real” Objectivist.

At the level of generalization I intend, what I have to say will apply to ideological groups and projects across the board, with Objectivism being a kind of “case study.”

While this exercise is prompted by those who have been smearing me (and others) recently, rather than respond to them directly with a personal rebuttal, I think it’s far more productive to expose the fraudulent methods these sorts employ — in light of general principles of when, where, and how it is proper or improper to cooperate with others in philosophical endeavors.

Although I’m disappointed to miss Robert Bidinotto’s Tall Tales About That Evil Wretch Who Shall Not Be Named, I eagerly await his justification for David Kelley’s wholeheartedly endorsement and support for a Muslim organization that merely regards violent jihad as “obsolete,” as well as for TOC offering friendly invitations to thoroughly dishonest critics of Ayn Rand and Objectivism to speak at their supposedly Objectivist seminar. TOC has much more appeasement and dishonesty to explain, but that would be a start. Of course, I’m sure that Good Old Bob will not sully himself by dealing with such concretes. That’s just his (rationalistic, evasive, and cowardly) way.

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