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The Sociology Of The Ayn Rand Cult?

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The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult

by Murray N. Rothbard

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard23.html

I must say that this was the "funniest" critique of Rand and her associates I have ever read. Much of it is hearsay and quite frankly I do not consider it to be a critique of Objectivism but rather certain individuals.

I checked his notes and most of the claims about Rand seem not have sources. The only reference material concerns his quotes of others.

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:) Yeah, that is pretty hilarious. He seems either to have no understanding of the philosophy, or to be intentionally misrepresenting it, as in statements such as this:

...the Randian belief that every individual is armed with the means of spinning out all truths a priori from his own head – hence there is felt to be no need to learn the concrete facts about the real world...

So what remains turns out to be nothing more than a gigantic smear piece, with most of the smears apparently being things that Rothbard just made up. What an idiot.

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I belive that Rand and Rothbard was pretty good friends earlier, and shared many common views. However the dispute that later started between them I think was about that Rothbards wife was a christian and Rand demanded that he should seperate from his wife because of that.

Rothbard disagred with Rand on this, and they went seperate ways after this. I belive that it was pretty much an ultimatum from Rand. If Im wrong on anything of this please correct me.

I havent read through the whole article "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult" by Rothbard and Im not really interested in doing it either. I did some briefly reading and it appears that the text is written with a bitter emotion behind it, as is often the case in these personal feuds among people in the Objectivism movement, unfortunatly. However I do belive that Rothbard is more bitter with the movement of Objectivism then the philosophy, even if you can probably spot some attempt at attacks on the philosophy itself.

I have the felling that there are quite a lot of people that are dissapointed of some of the actions the movement has taken. I mainly think of the excommunications that I belive has done more harm then good, and given the unfortunate appearence of Objectivism as a "cult" rather then a philosophical movement.

These personal feuds is probably the biggest reason why I havent subscribed to any organisation that promotes Objectivism (such as ARI, TOC). My main interest is the philosophy and I feel that I dont have to be a part of an organisation to learn and practise it, on the contrary I belive it to be good to learn it on your own feets, it builds up your individualism and indepence.

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I belive that Rand and Rothbard was pretty good friends earlier, and shared many common views. However the dispute that later started between them I think was about that Rothbards wife was a christian and Rand demanded that he should seperate from his wife because of that.

Sounds like another one of his lies. Miss Rand has a number of close Christian friends, and the idea that she'd tell someone to divorce a spouse solely because of their religion is pretty ridiculous.

This is from http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/obj_cult2.html

Rothbard, contrary to the impressions he has encouraged, had a very limited dealing with Rand. According to Barbara Branden, who was present on all the occasions when Rand and Rothbard were together, the total number of times they met were no more than half a dozen. Branden says that Rand immediately was uncomfortable with Rothbard and didn't particularly like him. Contrary to the stories Rothbard had allowed to flourish, if not encouraged them himself, he and Rand parted over an issue very non-cultic.

Rothbard presented a paper on scientism to a conference which Nathaniel Branden, Barbara, and Ayn felt was, to some degree, plagiarized from Barbara's thesis. Nathaniel wrote Rothbard a letter concerning the matter. The two of them corresponded over it but Rothbard insisted he didn't plagiarize while Rand and Branden were convinced that he had. After this incident Rothbard had no dealings with Rand and immediately launched into attacks on Rand and Objectivism. Rothbard often had violent quarrels with others and individuals who he once praised as wonderful were immediately cast into conspiracy with Satan himself. For an example, see how he turned on Ed Crane and the Cato Institute after he was removed from the Cato board.

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I didnt know about the plagiarizing issue so I decided to do a google search on "rand rothbard" and I found this essay

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/stromberg4.html

that is an answer to yours. The author claims that the ideas that Rothbard was accused of having plagiarized, originated from Thomistic philosophy.

Further down it mentions that Branden threated Rothbard with a lawsuit over the dispute, but it turned out to be an idle threat. Which perhaps was unfortunate because a test of this in a court would probably had been the best way of resolving the issue.

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That article is from the same site as the Rothbard one originally posted, and its tone is similar. It also blatantly misrepresents Objectivism. All of these are reasons to suspect its validity.

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Someone mentioned on the board a long time ago that Rothbard had admitted to making up that whole thing ("The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult" article). But I can't remember what thread it's in or who said it, and I don't know what their source was, so I can't verify it. But perhaps if that person reads this he can let us know.

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I must say that I found Peron's arguments to be more convincing than those of Joseph R. Stromberg. Who is Stromberg trying to kid? His piece sounds more like the polemnic against Objectivism. Not only did he make ridiculous comments but baseless ones also. For instance he says:

"The whole thing is silly on the face of it – and always was. Many Objectivists have very odd ideas about intellectual history and the nature and growth of systems of thought. One is that an idea, once put into circulation by Rand or one of her Top Certified Acolytes, cannot be elaborated or improved upon by any later thinker, but can only be repeated endlessly in its original form, presumably with copious footnotes to the Great Source [...]Another assumption is that any commonplace uttered by Rand and Cadre is decked in primal originality. If Rand ever noted that rain is wet, such Objectivists would ask us to believe that no earlier thinker had ever made that connection."

It amuses me that many critics of Objectivism always have to render trumped-up charges to make their case. How silly! The above was not and is not a position that is held by Objectivists. The fact that "A is A" is one of the most frequently uttered by Objectivists but we all know who was the first (recorded) to describe this fact of reality, Aristotle. Whether or not Rand said it-it remains true. I give Rand credit, however, for being a consistent philosopher who affirmed that reality if knowable (i.e., that A is A) in these times when men are thought that "nothing" can known (with certitude).

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I just read this and I'm not sure if it's true or not. Could someone with a greater knowledge of Objectivism shed some light on this for me?

<Removed link to yet another person talking about 'Ayn Rand cult'>

Thanks!

Edited by softwareNerd

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Tell us what you think and what questions you have. (Also, read the topics in this sub-forum.)

Since we're Objectivists here, simply posting a link to an article like that without comment or questions from you is a bit irritating. So, read the stuff I pointed to and ask questions that you have... or give us the tentative answers you have formulated.

(Edited to add: I found discussion that had asked about the very same article. So, I have merged the new posts with the old thred. - softwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd

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I must say that I found Peron's arguments to be more convincing than those of Joseph R. Stromberg. Who is Stromberg trying to kid? His piece sounds more like the polemnic against Objectivism. Not only did he make ridiculous comments but baseless ones also. For instance he says:

It amuses me that many critics of Objectivism always have to render trumped-up charges to make their case. How silly! The above was not and is not a position that is held by Objectivists. The fact that "A is A" is one of the most frequently uttered by Objectivists but we all know who was the first (recorded) to describe this fact of reality, Aristotle. Whether or not Rand said it-it remains true. I give Rand credit, however, for being a consistent philosopher who affirmed that reality if knowable (i.e., that A is A) in these times when men are thought that "nothing" can known (with certitude).

I'd like to point out that Aristotle never said "A is A." To the best of my (limited) knowledge, Aristotle thought the Law of Non-Contradiction was the most basic metaphysical principle. The Law of Identity wasn't made explicit until many, many centuries later.

Those who have an interest in the subject may find this thread at THE FORUM for Ayn Rand fans interesting:

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=881

Edited by Patrick N.

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