Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nathaniel Branden Against Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Nathaniel Branden delivered a speech on May 25, 1982 entitled, "The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand A Personal Statement." It was reprinted in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, it's available on the internet, and it is also the epilogue of his The Vision of Ayn Rand: The Basic Principles of Objectivism. (This last being in very bad taste stylistically, in my view: it undercuts the entire purpose of putting the BPO lectures into book-form, by claiming that the ideas contained within them caused so much harm to people.) It doesn't amount much to a criticism of the philosophy—it rarely critiques any of its principles. Rather, it's mainly a criticism of Rand and of the attempts of people to apply Objectivism to their lives, the errors that they fall into—errors which Branden claims are practically guaranteed to happen. He makes several dozen negative claims about Rand and Objectivism in this essay: I believe I have covered them all, or at least the vast majority. I've broken the essay up into claims Branden makes about practicing Objectivists, and claims concerning Rand, organizing them so as to present a detailed case of each.