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Post 120

Wednesday, June 1, 2005 - 12:04pmSanction this postReply
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"Even on the blog, your drug war posting does not mention any economic analyses of the secondary effects of drug prohibition, or the much more important issue of criminalizing medical treatment of nausea and pain."

 

Yeah, I've always been annoyed when Writer X fails to spend as much time as I would like on Subject Y. Who is Writer X? Every writer I've ever read. For some damn reason, they keep writing according to how their own circumstances and interests guide them, and as if there were only 24 hours in the day. Enough irrelevant sniping at Bidinotto.

(Edited by David M. Brown on 6/01, 12:06pm)




Post 121

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 4:24amSanction this postReply
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On May 31 Bidinotto wrote:
Schwartz found Kelley's appearance before the Laissez Faire supper club to be an opportune moment to denounce Kelley's alleged betrayal of the philosophy. It was an interesting betrayal, since Peikoff had himself spoken before the same audience a few years before, to promote The Ominous Parallels; and Peikoff's talk, despite his claims to the contrary, occurred while the Laissez Faire catalog carried many titles by the Brandens, by libertarians such as Rothbard, and by a range of anarchists. That Kelley was later pilloried for something Peikoff did under identical circumstances speaks volumes...so I don't have to.
No, you have to, because you're lying. Peikoff did not give a speech - it was a book signing event, and he sat a table and signed The Ominous Parallels.  The year was 1982 - 4 years before Mrs. Branden's Passion came out, and 8 years before Mr. Branden's memoir came out. The only books sold  by "the Brandens" in 1982 were Mr. Branden's earlier books on psychology. In 1985, Peikoff, Schwartz and others broke off with "Palo Alto Books Service" for carrying Kay Nolte Smith's roman a clef about Rand, Elegy for a Soprano. There's no doubt Peikoff would not have had a book signing in "Laissez Faire Bookstore" once it started carrying The Passion of Ayn Rand.

 




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Post 122

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 7:45amSanction this postReply
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"Lying," Michelle? 

Michelle, have I ever given you cause to believe that I am a liar? Could it possibly be that I just didn't recall correctly the single minor detail that Peikoff's appearance at Laissez Faire Books wasn't for a book signing plus a talk, but just for a book signing? Why do you immediately leap to the conclusion that in failing to recall this truly trivial detail about an event that occurred well over two decades ago that I am lying?

Do you prefer to believe that I am a liar? If so, why?

I don't wish to respond with similar motivational inferences, but I'll leave the question of yours hanging in the air for you to deal with.

In any case, the issue you raise of "book signing" versus "talk" is a distinction without a difference. The big deal raised against David Kelley was not only over the fact that Laissez Faire Books was carrying the Barbara Branden book; it was also that his very appearance at Laissez Faire Books constituted a "sanction" of a libertarian group. Peter Schwartz made this quite explicit in his "On Sanctioning the Sanctioners" -- his opening salvo against David Kelley -- and also in his follow-up essay, "On Moral Sanctions." In the latter essay, here is how he makes his case to condemn Kelley's LFB appearance because of the group's libertarianism
Thus, the "benefits" of speaking to Libertarian groups are as nonexistent as the "benefits" of exhibiting books at an Iranian fair. The Libertarian movement is not some innocuous debating club. It is a movement that embraces the advocates of child-molesting, the proponents of unilateral U.S. disarmament, the LSD-taking and bomb-throwing members of the New Left, the communist guerrillas in Central America and the baby-killing followers of Yassir Arafat. These views have all been accepted under the Libertarian umbrella (and remain accepted under it by everyone who still calls himself a Libertarian). It is these types of vermin that one is lifting into respectability whenever one sanctions Libertarianismor whenever one maintains that ideas can be analyzed without being evaluated.

Does this restrict the options open to Objectivist speakers? Certainly. Objectivism is a restrictive philosophy...

IT IS PARTICULARLY HARMFUL to speak under the patronage of an organization that epitomizes Libertarianism, such as Laissez-Faire Books. This is a book store that is the major source of Libertarian literature in the world; it is a division of Libertarian Review, Inc.; its editor is a well-known Libertarian speaker and writer; it advertises itself as offering the largest selection of books on "liberty"a term it defines according to the contradictory criteria of Libertarianism. (The fact that it carries Objectivist as well as Libertarian literature does not make it any less Libertarian. Such eclecticism is quintessential Libertarianism; the subjectivist, after all, does not abide by rigid standards. One of Libertarianism's goals is in fact to incorporate Objectivism into its "united front" ideology.)

...By speaking under the roof of an organization dedicated to purveying Libertarianism, one concedes that Libertarianism does in fact value liberty (and is simply confused about the proper meansi.e., Objectivismby which to gain that end). Once that fatal concession is made, Libertarianism has obtained the basic moral sanction its survival requires.

The contradiction, then, is this: The handful of Libertarians who may be open to reason need to be told that Libertarianism as such is anti-liberty and that Libertarian organizations should be boycotted. But this cannot be conveyed via a talk which is itself sponsored by a Libertarian organization.



Michelle, everything Schwartz says here about libertarianism and Laissez Faire Books was as true in 1982 when Peikoff spoke as it was when David Kelley spoke years later. In 1982 the LFB catalogue and bookstore contained not only books by Nathaniel Branden (#1 on Peikoff's "enemies" list), but also by Murray Rothbard and a host of anti-Objectivist anarchists, and even a number of explicitly anti-Objectivist books. Rothbard and his followers had long been venomous in their denunciations of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and the LFB Bookstore was filled with their works.

None of this was a secret prior to Peikoff's appearance. LFB catalogues had been widely circulated among libertarians and Objectivists for years, and it simply defies credibility to believe that Peikoff didn't know of the organization's nature and orientation, about which it was up-front and explicit.

Moreover, Schwartz's moral condemnation wasn't just directed against the act of speaking before such a group; it was directed against any public appearances under the auspices "of an organization that epitomizes Libertarianism, such as Laissez-Faire Books." How was Peikoff's book signing appearance at Laissez Faire Books -- a planned event promoted in advance -- any different, morally, from giving a talk? Didn't his merely being there as a featured, invited author at a public book signing constitute a "moral sanction" of Laissez Faire Books? 

And to borrow Schwartz's metaphor, weren't the "benefits" of his book-selling appearance exactly analogous to the dubious "'benefits' of exhibiting books at an Iranian fair"?

Come on, Michelle, let's get serious, shall we? Schwartz was clearly condemning any public association with such groups, which, he said, "should be boycotted." Any moral distinction between "talk" and "book signing" is nonsense. In any case, Peikoff's book-signing event certainly wasn't a boycott, which is the only policy they claim is morally appropriate towards libertarian organs.

In fact, morally speaking, Kelley's appearance at LFB was far superior to Peikoff's. Why? Because the whole point of Kelley's talk was to explain to libertarians the importance of adopting Objectivism as their philosophical base. By contrast, Peikoff appeared as a special invited guest at a public event held under this same libertarian organization's auspices, but did not speak out:  he did not attack libertarianism, or present the Objectivist alternative to libertarianism. Instead, all he did was sell his book, The Ominous Parallels, while remaining mute about his disagreements.

How should we interpret this? One ungenerous (though eminently justifiable) interpretation is that -- unlike Kelley -- Peikoff wasn't about to let his philosophy stand in the way of selling a few books, even to an "enemy" audience.

If David Kelley merits moral condemnation for directly confronting a group of libertarians with arguments about why they need Objectivism, then Leonard Peikoff deserves total scorn for showing up before the same libertarian group and remaining silent, just in order to rake in a few bucks.

 
 

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 6/29, 8:07am)

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 6/29, 8:17am)

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 6/29, 9:00am)




Post 123

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 11:57amSanction this postReply
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Peter Schwarz writes
>...The fact that it carries Objectivist as well as Libertarian literature does not make it any less Libertarian. Such eclecticism is quintessential Libertarianism; the subjectivist, after all, does not abide by rigid standards...

What a freaking classic line! LOL, LOL! There it is, the snapback into unfreedom in a nutshell. Difference=deviation - even as minor as the difference between Objectivism and Libertarianism. Not to mention the accompanying narcissism that minor difference is famous for. How ever do they cope in the world?

- Daniel



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Post 124

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 12:42pmSanction this postReply
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Unless Michelle Cohen was there at Laissez Faire Books (LFB) in 1982 to witness Leonard Peikoff's appearance, I wonder how she can be so confident that he didn't speak.  I attended book signings at LFB for ten years during the '90s, after the major part of the operation had relocated to San Francisco, and I can testify that an LFB "book signing" always included a 30 minute presentation by the author.

JR




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Post 125

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 3:29pmSanction this postReply
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Yeah, ditto Bidinotto's response re the "you're lying" bit. Where does that come from, Michelle?
 
As for what LFB might have been carrying in 1982, how lucky that I have a copy of the very first catalog issued under Andrea's stewardship, which includes such titles as Rothbard's The Ethics of Liberty, Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable, William O'Neill's With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy, John Robbins's An Answer to Ayn Rand.... 
 
Oops.
 
Even assuming that this catalog came out after Peikoff's book signings for Laissez Faire, Peikoff never had any reason to believe there would be sea change in the kind of books the bookstore was carrying. As Andrea has noted. And surely, on the "principles" that would be promulgated in the late 80s, Peikoff would have been obliged after the publication of that catalog to make an "Oh no, what have I done" type of announcement, per the hair shirts Ortho-Obs are obliged to publicly wear whenever they inadvertantly deviate from the faith.
 
But you know, I really think the reason Peikoff cooperated with an essence-of-evil outfit like Laissez Faire Books back then is that he wanted to sell his book. And maybe he didn't think LFB was so essentially evil even if it did carry some books not on the approved list. The publication of Passion, the premier crime of which is its honesty, would precipitate certain "realizations" and attitude-hardenings among these types.
 
I've said most of my bit on all this in Post 98 and following of this thread, which Michelle has clearly failed to memorize. (People, please memorize what I say in threads.)
 
http://solohq.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1101_4.shtml
 
Por ejemplo:
 

But then The Passion of Ayn Rand came out, and out went all the reasonableness. From Peikoff and others there were many examples of unsavory conduct toward people like Robert Hessen, Barbara Branden, George Walsh, David Kelley, etc. Later George Reisman got the treatment. 

 

It was David Kelley's little talk before Laissez Faire's little supper club, saying liberty needs an Objectivist foundation, which in the late 80s somehow provoked an attack on David Kelley by Peter Schwartz in The Intellectual Activist, and which thus got the ball ostensibly rolling on this particular schism. But the real cause was the publication of Barbara's 1986 biography of Rand, and Kelley's coolheaded refusal to damn it as the worst thing since Critique of Pure Reason and then hire Wesley Snipes to ram a stake through its heart. Laissez Faire Books, of course, carried the biography and published a glowing review of it by the late and great Roy A. Childs Jr.

 

In any case, the official word post-Passion was that you couldn't have no truck with Laissez Faire Books and still be a rational proselytizer of the faith. Yet back in 1982 Peikoff had signed copies of his book for the very book vendor that he and his homeys were now regarding as arch-evil and not even minimally sanctionable. To reconcile the apparent contradiction, Peikoff began telling people that then-proprietor Andrea Rich had assured him in '82-83ish that the catalog would "no longer carry" the offending type of libertarian titles--Andrea Rich had made no such assurance....

In a later post:

 

However you slice it, Peikoff obviously had no reason to believe in 1982 that there would be any radical shift in policy about the types of books to be carried by Laissez Faire Books. Of course, as a matter of fact, whenever there are shifts in management and editorship in such an outfit, there will likely be some changes in direction, changes that are not necessarily very obvious to outsiders. But all this is not to the point; LFB has always been "libertarian" in its willingness to carry books not regarded as kosher by the Objectivist flame keepers. There was never any ambiguity or doubt about that. Nor did Andrea ever give Peikoff any contrary assurance.

Now, Peikoff in later years damned Kelley for appearing in front of a small group at an LFB-sponsored get-together. How was his signing books for Laissez Faire any different in the sanctioning-of-libertarian-evil department? Again, we're back to all the retroactive backing and fillling that occurred as a result of the blow-up provoked by the publication of The Passion of Ayn Rand.

 

Andrea's own public statement about the matter in response to a query from Barbara is reprinted here, Post 103:

 

http://solohq.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1101_5.shtml

###




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Post 126

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
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Incidentally, in the summer 2003 Reason Papers, Tara Smith published an article.  There also was an article by W. Block, the chief architect of evil in the P. Schwartz piece.

Tara Smith appears to be associated with the ARI.  Has she repented?

http://www.reasonpapers.com/archives.htm




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Post 127

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 - 4:27pmSanction this postReply
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One reason I never joined ARI is that I'm only a so-so dancer, and their moral choreography was much too complicated for me to follow.



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Post 128

Thursday, June 30, 2005 - 10:53pmSanction this postReply
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Michelle,

If one reads Schwartz's original anti-Libertarian pamphlet "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty" and then reads in _The Intellectual Activist_ his denunciations of David Kelley for speaking at the Laissez-Faire Supper Club, it is apparent that by his lights David's primary sin was sanctioning a libertarian organization. He may have also smarted over the fact that Laissez-Faire sold _Passion_, but he rested his argument on the libertarian aspect. (He of course spelled 'libertarian' with a capital 'L', in keeping with his general obtuseness in confusing the political party with the movement, even after having done extensive research on those two topics.) Peikoff, writing in _The Intellectual Activist_ at this time, explicitly endorsed Schwartz's argument.

The cash value of the preceding paragraph is that Peikoff for a number of years made annual appearances on David Brudnoy's radio talk show on Boston's WBZ AM. Brudnoy was an explicitly libertarian thinker, and these appearances continued _even after Peikoff had excommunicated David_. So final answers to the questions of whether Peikoff spoke at his book signings for Laissez-Faire (as Jeff Riggenbach above indicates is likely) and whether he believed that Andrea Millen Rich would move away from selling objectionable titles are unnecessary to judge Peikoff to be a hypocrite.

My then-girlfriend called into the Brudnoy show during one such appearance to ask Peikoff how he could justify being interviewed on-air by a libertarian like Brudnoy after having excommunicated David Kelley for speaking before a libertarian organization. Roughly 48 hours later at the Ford Hall Forum talk Peikoff gave the same weekend, I stood up in the Q&A and asked a follow-up question on the same topic. So I remember at least some of these little chats of Peikoff's very well.

When I have mentioned these facts on other web sites in the past, various ARI-oriented Objectivists with whom I was debating forwarded my accusations to the parent organization for a response. DJ Jazzy Jeff himself has never spun so fast or so well as the spin doctors of Orange County, but the bottom line is that none have denied the basic events of my charge. The twist they put on them, however, has some points of similarity to their defense of Peikoff's earlier Laissez-Faire book signings.

-Bill

P.S. My girlfriend of the time and I were both regular listeners to Brudnoy's show. He was a brilliant guy and we didn't have any problem with him, just with Peikoff.

-B.



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Post 129

Friday, July 1, 2005 - 1:27amSanction this postReply
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Robert, I see you've been caught in a "lie" of the same scope and seriousness as Barbara's "lie" about the origins of Ayn Rand's surname.



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Post 130

Friday, July 1, 2005 - 8:58amSanction this postReply
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But Andrew, I've rethought this, and I must be guilty of lying. Consider:

According to "Fact and Value," except for kids and morons, and beyond "a certain point" (not defined), any adult reaching erroneous conclusions can be safely assumed to be evading reality, hence "dishonest." 

Furthermore, since the point I was making was against Peikoff, it had to be based on an "inherently dishonest idea" -- since to oppose Peikoff (qua Rand's "intellectual heir" and foremost living champion of reason) is necessarily to oppose reason as such.

Clearly, Michelle is correct for calling me a liar, and I hereby repudiate myself.

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 7/01, 8:59am)




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Post 131

Friday, July 1, 2005 - 9:29amSanction this postReply
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Robert,

Don't mind Michelle. She's come under the power of the ARI Jedi Mind trick. She now knows that Peikoff didn't know about the books in the LFB catalog. After all it's a question of contexts. Any context that could support Peikoff is a good context. Any context that opposes him is evil or worse ARBITRARY :-).

Jim




Post 132

Saturday, July 2, 2005 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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James, you got all that right. Very disappointing that people allow their psychological quirks to lead them to such foolishness.



Post 133

Sunday, July 3, 2005 - 7:31amSanction this postReply
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One addendum: In 1986 Laissez Faire Bookstore did not only carry Mrs. Branden's biography, but promoted the book heavily, invited Mrs. Branden to talk, recorded the talk and sold it under the title "An Evening with Barbara Branden."  Kelley's talk at LFB in 1989 was also recorded and sold.  Not so for Peikoff's book signing in 1982 - who wants to listen to pen scribblings? So much for "identical circumstances."




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Post 134

Sunday, July 3, 2005 - 8:38amSanction this postReply
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I admit I had never read Fact and Value before. Because of the raging convolution over deep philosophical fundamental essentials going on here, like if a man said something or not when he went to a place, I finally read it. The following quote from Atlas Shrugged popped into my head in the middle of my reading.
He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door.

"Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me," said James Taggart.

Eddie Willers walked toward the desk.

"It's important, Jim," he said, not raising his voice.

 "All right, all right, what is it?"
Then I got to the end and couldn't believe what I had just read. The quote fit. Did I understand the article correctly, that Peikoff said that he just wanted to be left alone with his Objectivism by questioning minds?

Dayaamm!

Michael




Post 135

Sunday, October 16, 2005 - 10:48pmSanction this postReply
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Wow, 135 comments. Quite a ruckus I've caused here. Now I just found out that Diana Hsieh commented about my article in her blog, found here: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2005/03/tall-tales.html. I wrote a little bit more about the issue in my own blog as well, which can be seen here: http://tomsphilosophy.tripod.com/atlantis. Hope everyone enjoys it.



Post 136

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - 5:55pmSanction this postReply
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Andre Zantonavitch:

To those of you who like and respect Yawon Bwook...

I may not know much about Yaron Brook, but making fun of his accent makes you look like a 6-year-old brat, with about as much credibility.

I'm surprised that someone with your -- shall we say, colorful? -- appellation would choose so readily to descend into the cesspool of mockery.



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