<< ARI Watch
– Among Current and Former ARI Associates –
The following aren’t complete biographies, just random facts, some out of the way and interesting.
Former editor of ARI’s donor newsletter Impact, former editor of The Undercurrent. Health care policy researcher for the now defunct Ayn Rand Center in Washington D.C. from January 2011 to January 2016. Fluent in Hindi and Bengali.
Former guest writer for ARI, Danish, born 1976. Ph.D. in Philosophy from Oxford University. Completed a two year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Copenhagen funded by the Carlsberg Foundation of Denmark. Now works in advertising.
Born 1949. Ph.D. in Philosophy from the City University of New York. Professor of philosophy at the State University of New York at Purchase.
His website (accessed January 2008) lists his articles under the title “Andrew Bernstein / Philosopher & Novelist.” Mr. Bernstein styles himself a defender of heroes and has written an allegedly romantic novel. I haven’t read it.
Regarding a trashy television cartoon series called South Park, and one of its episodes, James Valliant wrote (SOLO Forum, 4 November 2006):
“... I love the show and agree with Andy Bernstein, who responded to complaints about that one episode with ‘Who cares? It’s funny!’ ”As near as I can make out from the SOLO discussion, the episode concerned a character named “Chicken [expletive]er.” Asked for a reference regarding Mr. Bernstein’s statement, Mr. Valliant replied (SOLO Forum, 23 January 2007): “Andy said that in my living room.”
I submit that someone who thinks South Park funny, especially someone of Mr. Bernstein’s generation who grew up during a time of generally better taste, is incapable of writing an authentic romantic novel or having a clue what constitutes an authentic hero. Indeed, while praising sports stars Mr. Bernstein ignores authentic heroes and heroines in real life, such as Rodney Stich.
However Mr. Bernstein’s enthusiasm for South Park is consistent with his enthusiasm for George W. Bush. He once compared the latter to the Texas Rangers (see Our Bold, Fearless Leader on this website).
According to the Wikipedia article on the episode Mr. Bernstein thought so funny – the 16th in the series, first airing May 20, 1998 – it concluded by deriding people who read books, and in particular people who admire Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged.
I’ve seen only brief moments of South Park – all I could take. In appearance the characters are caricatures of misery and bitterness, the dialog smutty, some of the ideas cruel and dehumanizing. Admittedly some of what I saw was witty and clever, and the artwork has a unique “look” to it, but what’s good about the show doesn’t begin to compensate for the bad. It’s tasteless, and taste trumps politics any day. It opposes religion not to promote reason but to undermine the dignity of man, which many people see religion as doing – most people after all are not Objectivists.
Perhaps a young man can be excused for liking trash, but Andrew Bernstein is old enough to have refined his tastes. Anyone who enjoys South Park needs to do some serious self-criticism. Just say no, as they say.
... I didn’t come here to be compared to a dope fiend. Get on with the Bernstein stuff and leave your readers alone.
Who let you in here Froggy? To continue:
His website (accessed January 2008) features two “guest essays” by Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel and chairman of the Likud Party. The titles are: “What We’re Fighting: The Root Cause of Terrorism – It’s tyranny” (April 19, 2002) and “The Case for Toppling Saddam: The longer America waits, the more dangerous he becomes” (September 20, 2002). According to the Internet Wayback Machine, Mr. Bernstein first put up these articles sometime between April and June 2003, during ARI’s run up to the Iraq invasion (see Relentless Propaganda on this website).
Famous for the essay “Honoring Virtue” written nine months before the Iraq invasion praising every war the U.S. ever entered.
Contributing editor of the journal The Objective Standard. Author of The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire. We’d rather hear praise for laissez-faire from someone else.
We come now to the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies episode. Chris Matthew Sciabarra, of the Politics department at New York University, had written a book Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical. I once leafed through it and decided not to read any more. On the basis of Ayn Rand having contrasted, in her writing, one thing with another, Mr. Sciabarra claims she used a “dialectic method” and he elaborates that simple-minded idea at length. He also presents irrelevancies about Ayn Rand’s life as important. (Since writing this book Mr. Sciabarra has written a number of Internet articles. The ones regarding the Middle East make some good points.)
Mr. Sciabarra also founded the journal mentioned above, Ayn Rand Studies. I haven’t looked into it. Now to get to Mr. Bernstein. He’d written study guides of Ayn Rand’s novels for CliffsNotes and Mr. Sciabarra published a critique of them in his journal. Mr. Sciabarra then solicited a response from Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Bernstein obliged with “Reply to Kirsti Minsaas: On the Ayn Rand CliffsNotes” published in the Spring 2002 issue (vol. 3, no. 2). Mr. Sciabarra posted that issue’s table of contents on the Humanities.Philosophy.Objectivism discussion group (HPO) June 3, 2006. The following, dated June 6, is from the ensuing discussion (I leave off my external quote marks, bracketed comments are mine):
From: Betsy SpeicherFar from suffering the consequences of his failure to think, whatever form the failure took (his own verbose account is hard to believe) more likely Mr. Bernstein directed his apology, pompous and groveling by turns, at ARI for the purpose of not suffering any consequences.
... I asked Dr. Bernstein why he wrote for Sciabarra’s journal. He asked me to post the following:
To All Sincerely Concerned With Objectivism
By Andrew Bernstein
Last year Chris Sciabarra solicited from me an article for his journal in response to its review of the CliffsNotes on Ayn Rand’s novels. All I knew of Mr. Sciabarra was that he had written a strange book entitled Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical, in which he argued that she was a great thinker of the Hegelian school. [“All he knew” was rather significant. Next he’ll say he knew nothing about the journal – sluffing over the fact that he knew it was edited by Mr. Sciabarra.] Knowing nothing of his journal, I wrote several lines in response. This was a serious error on my part. I was irresponsible in not researching this journal and identifying its nature. In a world in which some individuals profess to love Ayn Rand’s work but make a living criticizing it [such exist, unfortunately, but I doubt the insinuation applies to Mr. Sciabarra] -- and where some similarly profess to admire Objectivism but insult the Ayn Rand Institute, its staff and contributors [well, no, it’s the “Ayn Rand Institute” and its staff and contributors who insult Objectivism], I should have known better.
The so-called Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is filled with writings by people with whom I refuse to knowingly associate under any circumstances. I deeply regret my thoughtless decision to contribute to this journal, and hereby irrevocably repudiate any and all association with it.
In this regard, the fault is entirely my own. This journal does not hide what it is. Its contents are available on the Internet for all to see.
In failing to do the requisite research and gather the necessary data, I failed to properly use my mind. I must now suffer the consequences of that.
To all who are sincerely concerned with Objectivism, I apologize, and recommend a complete repudiation and boycott of this journal and of any and all of Mr. Sciabarra’s work.
Mr. Bernstein refers in passing to individuals who “profess to love Ayn Rand’s work but make a living criticizing it.” We point out here that there are also individuals who profess to love Ayn Rand’s work, and make a living perverting it – Mr. Bernstein and the others at ARI being prime examples.
In 2006 with the help of ARI and Sidney Gunst, founded The Objective Standard, which claims to be “a quarterly journal of culture and politics written from an Objectivist perspective” (quoting the website) and is its editor. In foreign policy it can hardly be distinguished from The Weekly Standard. He wrote the multi-part essay “Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It.” Judging from his other articles, as the way of loving life and self-interest you are to welcome Third World immigrants, defend Israel and destroy Iran. Iraq had already been destroyed before he founded the journal.
His article “Israel and America’s Flotilla Follies (and How To Avoid Them in the Future)” (TOS Summer 2010) expresses his high regard for Israel’s armed forces: “Israel’s soldiers are ... noble, heroic young men and women charged with fighting at the front line against barbarians.”
Among the books he thought worthy of a TOS review: Why Are Jews Liberals by Norman Podhoretz and The Seven Principles of Zionism: A Values-Based Approach to Israel Advocacy by Dan Illouz.
When Leonard Peikoff had John McCaskey (see below) thrown out of ARI, to his credit Mr. Biddle sided with John McCaskey. ARI then cancelled all his scheduled speaking engagements.
Member of the Board of Directors at ARI. A former “associate” of Ayn Rand according to ARI.
Professor of Philosophy at ARI’s Objectivist Graduate Center.
Published and edited a bimonthly journal The Objectivist Forum from 1980 to 1987. Ayn Rand supported it (before her death in March 1982) but took care to write in the inaugural issue that it was not “the official voice of Objectivism ... [or] my representative or my spokesman.”
Runs the “Harry Binswanger Letter” (HBL) consisting of a blog and forum. (Before January 2015 it was the “Harry Binswanger List,” an email publication “for Objectivists, moderated by Dr. Binswanger, for discussing philosophic and cultural issues,” quoting his website at the time.) Your cost is $12.50 per month or $150 per year (no discount). The two week free trial, automatically continued unless cancelled, requires a credit or debit card.
When the Letter was a List the website contained the following “HBL Loyalty Oath” which members implicitly took, sort of like a software shrink-wrap agreement:
I “exclude anyone who is sanctioning or supporting the enemies of Ayn Rand and Objectivism. ‘Enemies’ include: ‘libertarians’ [he doesn’t define the term], moral agnostics or ‘tolerationists’, anarchists, and those whom Ayn Rand condemned morally or who have written books or articles attacking Ayn Rand. I do not wish to publicize the myriad of anti-Objectivist individuals and organizations by giving names ... .Restricting an Objectivist study list to people sincerely interested in studying Objectivism is reasonable, though calling this a “loyalty oath” was kind of silly – “expressing sincere interest” would have served the purpose and not sounded like a Masonic Lodge initiation. But whatever you call it, considering his own writings sincere interest in Objectivism is not what he seeks.
“If you bristle at the very idea of a ‘loyalty oath’ and declaring certain ideological movements and individuals as ‘enemies’, then my list is probably not for you. To join my list while concealing your sanction or support of these enemies, would be to commit a fraud.”
The Loyalty Oath disappeared when the List became a Letter, replaced with a shorter and more urbane statement amounting to the same thing but without the silly title.
In 2006 according to Betsy Speicher (CyberNet Sept. 2006) there were over 800 subscribers to HBL. A six figure income from a list?
Born 1944. ARI announcements always refer to him as “Dr.” He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University, 1973. Majored in Humanities as an undergraduate (B.S. 1965 in “Humanities and Engineering”) while a brother of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
An heir of Binswanger Glass, founded 1872 and now headquartered in Dallas. A company subsidiary, Glasscraft, did the engraving of the 57,000 names on the Vietnam War memorial in D.C., which is – oh, I don’t know, ironic doesn’t quite cover it. An ARI op-ed once praised American soldiers who “have fought and died for freedom around the globe” and it explicitly mentioned the Vietnam War, as if dying for Nguyen Van Thieu had been a virtue. The article was an orgy of self-sacrifice promotion, one of the most disgusting things ARI put out during their run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Yaron Brook was proud of the op-ed’s popularity, see “What We Owe Our Soldiers” on this website.
... Maybe Binswanger owns a pile of stock in Haliburton, not that he’s a war profiteer or anything like that.
That’s enough out of you, Froggy.
Mr. Binswanger was a major contributor to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” website, about an old television series, now defunct. Also wrote, along with Michael Berliner (executive director of ARI at the time), the “Episode and Best Lines Guide” to the series. I’ve never seen the show.
Once had a website which, besides listing dialog from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, recommended the “Theory of Elementary Waves” (TEW), a physics theory of one Lewis Little purporting to explain quantum phenomena. Quoting Mr. Binswanger (November 2000): “A Copernican revolution in particle physics, by Dr. Lewis Little. By reversing the direction of the Schroedinger wave, Dr. Little eliminates all the ‘weirdness’ from quantum mechanics.” Later he changed this from an endorsement of the theory (which considering his meager knowledge of physics, revealed in a TEW discussion group, he was in no position to make) to words to the effect that there may be something to it. In fact this theory is at base incomplete, it’s no theory at all. Though quantum mechanics does need a proper foundation TEW is not a candidate. (Alfred Landé and Carver Mead are worth reading on this subject, though both cannot be wholly correct.)
The French mathematician Émile Borel in his monograph Probabilité et Certitude (Probability and Certainty) maintains that the mathematical probability of some events is so small that in human terms it is zero. I was reminded of this, from the other end of the telescope, after reading about Mr. Binswanger’s claim that increasingly large numbers eventually lose their meaning, there is a point beyond which man cannot comprehend such a large quantity. Not only is there no actual number “infinity,” the number system is not even potentially infinite.
This brings to mind an old European joke told by the theoretical physicist George Gamow. Two Hungarian aristocrats are sitting in a café. One says: “Let’s play a game to see who can think of the largest number.” The other replies: “OK. You go first.” The first aristocrat, after some minutes of concentrated mental effort, says: “Three!” and looks challengingly at the second aristocrat. He, the second aristocrat, sits stock still for a quarter of an hour thinking, then replies: “You win.”
... Could you just get on with the Binswanger stuff and spare us these digressions?
Compiled The Ayn Rand Lexicon consisting of brief excerpts of Ayn Rand’s writing and speaking arranged alphabetically by subject.
Author of the book The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts, based on his Ph.D. thesis, which thesis he now disowns. When he completed a draft of a book on epistemology, eventually self-published as How We Know, charged $400 for those interested to criticize it.
When Sarah Cahill wrote a good review of The Fountainhead on everydayebook.com (May 16, 2012) he posted this comment on Facebook:
“It’s great to see someone who ‘gets’ The Fountainhead. I was an associate of Ayn Rand and a friend in her final years, so in her name I thank you.”Possibly that year’s most pretentious utterance.
Though Barbara Branden deserved contempt for her parasitism and deceit, the feeling Mr. Binswanger expressed in a remark the day after her death was rather different (Twitter, 12 December 2013): “If you’ve not heard, Barbara Branden has died. Not exactly sad news.” Happy news? What difference did her death make to him? His remark – typed out and broadcast to the public – is puerile, juvenile in the negative sense of the word. Imagined memo from Yaron Brook: Re tweets, for Pete’s sake, Harry, think before you click Send.
He supports government institutionalized torture, warrantless wiretaps, and America’s conquest by immigration. For the last see Open Borders and Individual Rights.
Now lives in Naples, Florida. The city is 94.1% white. His house cost $840,000 (February 29, 2014) so his neighborhood is probably 100% white. Neighborhood doesn’t quite describe it, it’s a “premier gated residential community” known as Banyan Woods. Another quote from its website (accessed March 2015):
“... fenced on all sides, Banyan Woods offers a gated entry with guardhouse, harkening back to the safe havens we all knew in childhood.”As for the population density of Banyan Woods, according to the Naples Area Board of Realtors: “With only three single family homes per 100 acres, each home offers plenty of space between neighbors.”
Most of his articles appear on Capitalism Magazine (run by one Mark Da Cunha), Real Clear Markets and in the past Forbes rather than being published by ARI. Something of a loose cannon, blats out absurdities directly that other ARI writers only insinuate.
See the George Reisman affair under Leonard Peikoff below.
ARI’s archivist since 1993. Born 1957. Co-produced the video Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and wrote a short illustrated biography. I haven’t seen the video or read the book.
Lo these many years ago when about 16 or 17 I knew a girl who once said she liked H. P. Lovecraft, a 1920’s and 30’s writer of horror stories. Now if today I had to choose a brief phrase to describe a typical Lovecraft story it would be “cosmically depressing.” What could a cheerful, healthy and pretty girl have liked about a creep like Lovecraft? Indeed, what could I myself have liked, for at the time I too was reading one of his books. The answer (in my case anyway) was his lucid, journalistic style of writing and the syntax of some of his sentences, complicated yet perfectly clear at the same time.
But this style was in the service of a sick view of life, and I soon realized it, as I trust did the girl. Youth can be excused for overvaluing the superficial glitter in writing. After a certain age there is no excuse. Which brings us back to someone rather beyond the youthful years, Mr. Britting.
... I was wondering what happened to him.
C-Span television interviewed Mr. Britting during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 2009. The subject of the interview was the recent spurt in sales of Atlas Shrugged. At the end the interviewer asked Mr. Britting, the occasion being a festival of books, what he himself was reading right now. He paused (a bit too long I thought) then replied: “The collected short stories of Vladimir Nabokov.” (Like an aficionado he pronounced it the Russian way: Na-BOO-koff.) He said he had problems with the content – his manner in saying this was perfunctory and he didn’t elaborate – but said he liked the writing – his manner was enthusiastic as he continued: if he read the first paragraph of one of Nabokov’s stories he was roped in and had to read to the end. And that was it from Mr. Britting.
I’ve read very little of Nabokov – you don’t have to eat the whole fish to know it’s rotten. The sample reeked of self-mockery, self-loathing, an incommunicable flippant jeering at life, combined with arrogance – a tired, peevish, arrogance – conceit and cruelty.
... South Park, now Nabokov. Is there anything you do like?
Talk about generalizing from too few instances. Now Froggy, please be quiet. To continue:
Ayn Rand despised Nabokov’s view of existence. The following is from her Playboy interview, 1964, the part where they discuss contemporary literature. (Considering that per agreement with the magazine she had editorial control over the published transcript, it carries more weight than other of her spoken answers to questions.) Playboy: “What about Nabokov?” Ayn Rand:
“I have read only one book of his and a half – the half was Lolita, which I couldn’t finish. He is a brilliant stylist, he writes beautifully, but his subjects, his sense of life, his view of man, are so evil that no amount of artistic skill can justify them.”(In my own opinion his writing is uneven, with only occasional sections of good descriptions and sometimes a witty metaphor – but let it pass.)
George Orwell once wrote in his journal: “At 50 everyone has the face he deserves.” Just look at a photo of Nabokov. Ugh!
Is it worth the effort to read him critically? In 1643 John Milton wrote a pamphlet entitled Areopagitica, on “the liberty of unlicenc’d printing,” arguing against state censorship. One can agree with his conclusion while disagreeing with some of his arguments. Consider the following, which Milton attributes to the Apostle to the Thessalonians (St. Paul), the spelling modernized here:
“To the pure, all things are pure, not only meats and drinks, but all kinds of knowledge whether of good or evil; the knowledge cannot defile, nor consequently the books, if the will and conscience be not defiled.”That is, defiled already. The trouble with the above, of course, is that it isn’t true. Unless you can read like a medical pathologist performing a dissection and coldly find depravity intellectually interesting, or can consciously discount and abstract from depravity though it’s thrown in your face, you will be soiled by a vile book.
The strain of retaining the outlook of a clinical pathologist will detract from whatever value you get out of such a book, as will – if you simply read and take it in – the strain of cleansing yourself afterward with a postmortem analysis.
All of which is to say that sometimes the good isn’t worth the bad. And if Mr. Britting can’t help praising Nabokov on national TV, at least he can spend equal time and equal emotion expressing his disgust.
If he is disgusted.
... Boy, that guy’s gonna think twice before going on TV again!
Froggy, sometimes I wonder if you’re serious. The over-arching point is that Nabokov is a prude. Life is beautiful, including and especially love, yet he makes it ugly – all the while snidely protesting that he is fresh and clean. This is far more worth pointing out than that he writes well.
Born 1961 and raised in Israel. Read Atlas Shrugged at age 16. Volunteered for Shayetet 13 (a sort of Israeli Navy Seals) at age 18, passed basic training but before entering intensive training was rejected because of a new restriction: he was colorblind. Then served in Israeli Military Intelligence for three years “carrying out low-level tasks, such as analyzing targets in enemy territory” (quoting Gary Weiss, who interviewed him), attaining the rank of First Sergeant and finishing sometime in 1982. This organization’s Hebrew abbreviation in English letters is Aman, sometimes written A’man. This should not be – as some commentators have – confused with the Mossad.
Emigrated to the U.S. in 1987 at the age of 26. Became a U.S. citizen in 2003. The U.S. allows dual citizenship for Israelis, I don’t know whether he relinquished his Israeli citizenship or not. If he still has his Israeli passport then he hasn’t. On his BlogTalkRadio show he has variously said, referring to his personality, “I’m Israeli” and “I’m an Israeli.” He once said (AM560 Rewind radio show February 21, 2017) “I still go back to Israel, I spend about a week in Israel every year, my whole family still lives there.”
ARI’s OCON 2010 featured Yaron Brook and Michael Berliner in a Q & A July 8 “Staying the Course: ARI 25 Years Later” celebrating the 25th anniversary of ARI. According to one attendee’s hasty and somewhat garbled notes: “Michael Berliner commented on the choice of Yaron Brook as CEO of the institute, and mentioned that he wasn’t well know[n] when he was hired. Brook was (and is) a non-compromiser, Berliner pointed out, and joked that ... he was [that is, at the time had been] confident that Yaron, as an Israeli, ‘wouldn’t that [sic] anything from anybody’.”
Appointed Executive Director of ARI by Leonard Peikoff in January 2000. The first reference to him on ARI’s website is dated March 2001. He was given the additional title President in 2005.
In August 2016 ARI announced it was creating a new position, called CEO, to take over some of Mr. Brook’s work. The CEO would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of ARI and Mr. Brook would continue as president, the more senior position. The announcement gave him the new title “executive chairman.” He will advocate Objectivism “on a global scale.” In January 2017 ARI hired the new CEO, one Jim Brown. Mr. Brook continues to lead the board, determine the general direction of ARI, and promote (quoting the 2016 announcement) “Ayn Rand’s ideas around the world.” On becoming CEO Mr. Brown said “I'm delighted to join the team and look forward to expanding ARI’s influence around the world.”
Mr. Book was contributing editor of the journal The Objective Standard from its founding in 2006 until the end of October 2010, when the publisher, Craig Biddle (see above), by mutual agreement, severed his relationship with the journal. (Mr. Biddle first announced that he had “unilaterally” removed Mr. Brook, later he clarified this. Mr. Biddle’s defense of John McCaskey – see below – put Mr. Brook in a difficult position regarding his loyalty to Mr. Peikoff.)
ARI announcements always refer to him as “Dr.” An undergraduate at Israel’s Technion university, majored in civil engineering (B.S. 1986). According to the Register article cited below he didn’t care for engineering, neither the work nor the pay. In the U.S. he obtained an MBA (1988) and a Ph.D. in Finance (1992) from the University of Texas at Austin. Taught for seven years – 1993 to 2000, Department of Finance – at Santa Clara University, which describes itself as a “Jesuit, Catholic university.” The University’s website is wishy-washy about what this means. On the one hand “Jesuit education takes religious and personal faith seriously.” On the other: “This does not mean, however, that every faculty, staff, and student activity has an explicitly religious dimension.” What is wanted is a “discussion” which “keeps open the lines of communication about the meaning of faith,” etc. etc.
According to ARI he helped found three companies before joining ARI. One was BH Equity Research, a private equity and hedge-fund management firm in San Jose, California (co-founded with Robert Hendershott, 1998). Misters Brook and Hendershott are associated with Context Capital Partners (founded 2005) and manage their Context BH Equity Fund. Another company Mr. Brook founded was Lyceum International in 1994, specializing in Objectivist conferences and distance-learning courses (there was a co-founder if Wikipedia is correct). Lyceum International was the springboard to his being appointed Executive Director of ARI. (According to Objectivism Reference Center, Lyceum International merged with Second Renaissance Books and Second Renaissance Conferences to form The Ayn Rand Bookstore, and in February 2003 this was acquired by ARI.) ARI hasn’t revealed the third company but may have been referring to earlier activity when he and another Israeli sold framed reproductions of famous romantic paintings to Objectivists, starting soon after he emigrated and then later by himself for some years.
He is president and owner of RYB Enterprises, incorporated in June 2004, based at his home office. In the past ARI has reimbursed some of his expenses to RYB Enterprises.
Seminars offered by Lyceum International in 1999 included “Profit is Moral Seminars,” evidently directed at corporate executives. The first of these seminars was “Executive Pay: The Sky’s the Limit.” The Lyceum website described this seminar as follows:
“An executive has the right to make buckets of money for himself. In doing so it is to everyone’s mutual benefit from a janitor to a secretary to a consumer. This seminar explains the producers’ motive for making money. We unmask the envy that motivates your enemies.”
It must be taken for granted that the seminar taught that the executive must earn his “buckets of money” — a platitude worth repeating because some executives don’t, to the detriment of the janitors, the secretaries, the stockholders and perhaps the public. This is not a question of malice in the bearer of bad news but rather of the competence and honesty of the executive. An “all businessmen are good” fallacy plagues many Objectivist discussions, though not Atlas Shrugged where numerically many of the businessmen are villains even if little time is spent describing them compared to the heroes.
Besides his position at ARI Mr. Brook is also managing director and chairman of BH Equity Research, mentioned above. His compensation from the latter is not in the public record.
ARI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, a “charity.” According to its Form 990 filing Mr. Brook’s compensation from ARI for the fiscal year ending September 30 has been:
| Year || Direct Comp. || Benefits || Total Comp. || ARI expenses |
| 2005 || $ 244,981 || $ 2,527 || $ 247,508 ||5.8 %|
| 2006 || $ 351,674 || $ 3,625 || $ 355,299 ||7.0 %|
| 2007 || $ 346,238 || $ 6,671 || $ 352,909 ||6.0 %|
| 2008 || $ 413,750 || $ 6,604 || $ 420,354 ||6.2 %|
| 2009 || $ 420,162 || $ 18,926 || $ 439,088 ||7.6 %|
| 2010 || $ 248,001 || $ 21,639 || $ 269,640 ||3.1 %|
| 2011 || $ 451,465 || $ 21,145 || $ 472,610 ||5.5 %|
| 2012 || $ 386,623 || $ 21,934 || $ 408,557 ||4.1 %|
| 2013 || $ 383,768 || $ 24,643 || $ 408,411 ||3.9 %|
| 2014 || $ 284,359 || $ 25,836 || $ 310,195 ||2.9 %|
| 2015 || $ 415,018 || $ 26,700 || $ 441,718 ||4.2 %|
Just as the stockholders of a company should monitor the salaries of its management because the money comes out of their dividends, so the donors to a charity should watch the salaries of its management because the money comes out of their contributions (and the investment income generated by same). In both cases: are you getting your money’s worth?
How much is “Invade Iraq now.” and “If torture works, torture them.” worth? According to an admiring if somewhat flippant article about Mr. Brook entitled “Atlas Came to Irvine” by Teri Sforza, based on an interview with Mr. Brook and published in The Orange County Register, October 9, 2007, “Brook has lectured on ‘The Morality of War,’ arguing that trying to spare civilian lives has prevented the U.S. from winning in Iraq. ‘If, once all the facts are rationally evaluated, it is found that directly bombing civilian populations or torturing POWs will save American lives, then it is moral – morally mandatory – to do so.’ ” And of course Mr. Brook has rationally evaluated all the facts. As for immigration anarchy: “The solution to illegal immigration is to make it legal.” Such wisdom doesn’t come cheap. (I’m being sarcastic.)
In the Peikoff podcast dated January 6, 2015 Mr. Brook said that he spends or keeps most of his income, and gives no money to any charity except ARI: “any money that I have that I think is available to give to a cause I give to the Institute.” He didn’t tell the amount. Perhaps there is some tax advantage to the round trip, who knows.
In a talk given March 26, 2014 called “Anti-Capitalism and Anti-Semitism” he said “I’m not rich.” The next month, April 17, in a debate with James Galbraith called “Inequality: Should We Care?” he said he was worth only about 1/15000 as much as Bill Gates. Considering Gates was worth about $76 billion at the time, that would be about five million dollars. If Mr. Brook is a good investor this seems low given his income. Later in the debate he said that someone with a degree in finance might choose to work in Wall Street and make a lot of money, or “They might choose to be a professor or teacher, like myself or Dr. Galbraith, and condemn themselves to a life of lower middle class-hood.”
Like many Neocons, Mr. Brook was once a socialist. The Register article is subtitled “Ex-socialist runs Ayn Rand Institute.” Remembering his visits to England and Boston as a teenager, Mr. Brook “recalls arguing with his Western capitalist classmates over the blights of poverty and economic inequality that went hand-in-hand with the free market.”
Economically he may be a capitalist now but culturally he remains a socialist, see Immigration Enthusiasts on this website.
He lives in a guard-gated community known as Coto De Caza, near Trabuco Canyon, California.
He frequently visits Israel. For example, in 2007 he visited along with his wife, also an Israeli expatriate (Register), to see relatives there. During the visit, on June 18, he gave a public lecture at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center in Ramat HaSharon, entitled “Israel and the West’s War against Islamic Totalitarianism.”
After the talk, Israel’s Jerusalem Post published two articles about Mr. Brook based on it and evidently an interview. One article was entitled “You Don’t Fight a Tactic” by Orit Arfa (July 12, 2007). It begins “Dr. Yaron Brook, 46, speaks and carries himself like a Rand hero.” A photo of him is captioned:
“Rand hero lookalike Brook. ‘To the extent America abandons Israel, it abandons itself.’ ”
quoting Mr. Brook. I think I’m going to throw up.
... AUGH !!! That comment was uncalled for, disgusting. I thought this was a family website. There’s nothing worse than throw—
Would you please be quiet? Now where was I?
The companion article was “The Nexus” also by Orit Arfa and published on the same date. From that article (deleting an extraneous comma after “US”): “While the Jewish state may lack serious representation of Rand scholarship, in the US many leaders of the Objectivist movement are Jewish.” Evidently Ms. Arfa put this as a challenge to Mr. Brook, and he, thinking it an understatement, replied with the following (comments in brackets are mine):
“Most communists are Jewish. [True, with qualification.] Most professors are Jewish. [False.] Jews are intellectuals, so they dominate any intellectual movement. [False.] Jews dominate the anti-Zionist movement. [It may be true. More are affected, and not all are of Mr. Brook’s ilk.] I wouldn’t be surprised if Jews head up Holocaust denial. [Good grief. Anyway “Holocaust denial” is a package deal.] Jews are intellectual; they gravitate towards ideas. ... I think they’d certainly gravitate towards a set of ideas that make sense.’ ”
Now that makes sense! I’m being sarcastic. The above bit of Jewish chauvinism is of course ridiculous, perhaps a sign of desperation. If Mr. Brook had truthfully wished to explain Mr. Arfa’s observation he would have replied as follows: Unquestioning support of Israel is a prerequisite for working at ARI, most such supporters are found among Jews and Christian-Rapturists, and Christian-Rapturists are out.
Ms. Arfa again: “It [ARI] concentrates on American domestic issues, but Israel figures prominently in its lectures, essays and editorials.” It sure does. Then she quotes Mr. Brook:
“Ayn Rand herself commented that Israel was one of the few causes she ever voluntarily supported. The West turning against Israel – which she saw occurring in the late 1960s and early 1970s – was the West committing suicide.”
It’s true, unfortunately, that Ayn Rand supported Israel, in the sense of against Russia (though in fact Israel’s attitude towards Russia was ambivalent) and Arabia (see Ayn Rand on Israel on this website for details). But the insinuation above is fabricated by Mr. Brook. She never said that the West turning against Israel was “the West committing suicide.” Or even that in practice the West was turning against Israel (over the years U.S. foreign aid to Israel has increased steadily).
Back in “You Don’t Fight a Tactic” Mr. Brook is quoted explaining why he left Israel:
“... with its socialist policy, ridiculous political system, constant external threats, I didn’t think it was the place I could make the most of my life.”
Each Israeli should emigrate to make the most of his life, or just Mr. Brook? The above was addressed to the Jerusalem Post for Israeli consumption, while Americans get the “bastion of Western civilization” line.
GaleiLA — LA-Waves in English — is an “Israeli Jewish online radio station based in Los Angeles,” as once described on its website. It was founded by Ido Ezra, an L.A. correspondent for some radio stations in Israel. From its website:
“Our goal is to strengthen the Jewish community nationwide, raise awareness while creating a united voice as “One.” Our efforts will help expose local Jewish/Israeli businesses across the U.S., connecting and creating an opportunity for a strong networking platform.”
Yaron Brook was featured on Orit Arfa’s first (and apparently last) radio show on GaleiLA (“In the Spotlight with Orit Arfa”) November 14, 2010. A few excerpts follow (we leave off our external quote marks).
Orit Arfa: Tell me a little bit about your background.
Yaron Brook: I was born and raised in Israel. In the 70’s when I was a teenager in Israel I was a Socialist and a Zionist, a real Jewish collectivist, really believed in the tribe. I was a real altruist and was ready to sacrifice anything for the sake of Israel.
At 16 I read Atlas Shrugged, and [it] was the exact opposite of everything I believed in. It was anti-socialist, pro-capitalist; it was anti-collectivism and pro-individualism, and it was a tough book for me to read because it contradicted everything I believed in. I like to say: ‘I waged a battle against Atlas Shrugged and Atlas Shrugged won.’ ”
One should be a little suspicious that Mr. Brook did in fact overcome his Israeli indoctrination. After reading the rest of the ARI Watch website you can judge for yourself whether Mr. Brook made Atlas Shrugged the foundation of ARI, or twisted it into an elaborate rationalization for Israel worship, globalism and – to paraphrase Ayn Rand – the rich who would rule.
Later in the interview, after he explains his emigration to the U.S.:
OA: You don’t really miss the country [that is, Israel]?
YB: I miss certain aspects of it. I listen to a lot of old Israeli music when I drive. I love Israeli music from the 70s and early 80s. My entire family’s there, my wife’s entire family’s there so, yes, there are certain things that one misses, but I don’t miss living there, no. I wouldn’t change where I am.
There’s still hope:
OA: ... if all Israelis became Objectivists and followers of Atlas Shrugged and moved because Israel isn’t the best place, then—
YB: But if all of them became Objectivist they wouldn’t have to move, they’d create Objectivist Heaven in Israel and I’d move back there.
Mr. Brook has eclectic tastes. When asked what kind of music he likes he replies that he listens to a lot of classical, a lot of Israeli, and ends:
: In popular music I like primarily the rock of the 70s.
: Now we’re going to play a song that you chose. It’s an Israeli song ...
: You have to be Israeli to appreciate this song. This song is very much of the culture and mood of Israel in the 70s. ... it’s very much imbued with the atmosphere of Israel when I was growing up.
Why spend time on Mr. Brook’s musical taste? It illustrates his yearning for Israel but more importantly: the art a man admires reveals his inner life. In this case we have an apparent contradiction. Mr. Brook’s liking both classical and rock music is analogous to Andrew Bernstein’s liking both Atlas Shrugged and South Park. These men cannot in truth appreciate the good of, respectively, classical music and romantic fiction. Truly liking some things entails disliking some other things.
Mr. Brook justifies a Jewish State as follows:
YB: ... we live in an irrational world in which anti-Semitism exists. People hate the Jews. The Zionist movement came about ...
etc., the usual Zionist line. That concludes our excerpts of Ms. Arfa’s November 2010 interview.
The Ayn Rand Center Israel (ARCI) was established in Ramat HaSharon, Israel, October 2012 with “the assistance and sponsorship of the Ayn Rand Institute” (quoting ARCI’s website). The Israeli directors are Boaz Arad and Tal Tsfany. The latter manages ARCI’s “activities in the U.S.” Yaron Brook and Michael Berliner comprise its advisory board.
According to ARI’s Form 990 filing for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, under “Grants and Other Assistance to Organizations or Entities Outside the United States,” ARI transferred $100,000 to the Middle East – doubtless ARCI in Israel – for “outreach.”
Member of the Mont Pelerin Society since 2011. ARI boasts of his membership on its website. The Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 1947 by Friedrich Hayek. Years later, in reaction to what it had become, Hans-Hermann Hoppe founded the Property and Freedom Society. The following is from “The Property and Freedom Society – Reflections After Five Years” by Hans-Hermann Hoppe (June 2010). He describes the Mont Pelerin Society as it is today:
“... the meetings are dominated and the range of acceptable discourse is delineated by [here begins a long list ending with] ... assorted international educrats and researchocrats in and out of government. No discussion in the hallowed halls of the Mont Pelerin Society of U.S. imperialism or the Bush war crimes, for instance, or of the financial crimes committed by the Federal Reserve Bank ... ¶ Not all of this can be blamed on Hayek ... He had increasingly lost control of the Mont Pelerin Society already long before his death in 1992.”
“There had been skepticism concerning the Mont Pelerin Society from the beginning. Ludwig von Mises, Hayek’s teacher and friend, had expressed severe doubt concerning his plan simply in view of Hayek’s initial invitees: how could a society filled with certified state-interventionists promote the goal of a free and prosperous commonwealth?
“Despite his initial reservations, however, Mises became a founding member of the Mont Pelerin Society. Yet his prediction turned out correct. Famously, at an early Mont Pelerin Society meeting, Mises would walk out denouncing speakers and panelists as a bunch of socialists.”
Steve Reed posted the following on Free Republic Sept. 6, 2002 – see also HPO, June 5, 2002. The ARI event he mentions took place in Hollywood during the C-SPAN show about Ayn Rand, May 12, 2002:
“Yaron Brook ... wears a bulletproof vest every time he speaks in public. He is afraid that someone is going to assassinate him due to his support for Israel. ... I am not making this up. He said this in my presence at an ARI event.”
The times I’ve seen Mr. Brook’s televised public appearances his suit coat looked a couple sizes too big. I don’t know which is dumber, wearing the vest or blabbing about it.
Former guest writer for ARI and The Undercurrent. His essays are also published on Capitalism Magazine. Born 1946. Even when his conclusions are true they’re usually undercut by a convoluted train of thought. Writes historical novels, favorably reviewed in The Objective Standard. To his credit he has spoken out against Muslim immigration. However he rarely, if ever, speaks about the Third World invasion otherwise.
Born 1980. Former Fellow at ARI. Left ARI August 2011 and founded the Center for Industrial Progress.
During the Iraq War wrote “What We Owe Our Soldiers” and “How to Truly Support our Troops.” Though at the time a strapping young fellow into the marital arts, neither debt nor support included enlisting himself, apparently preferring to possess his soldiers from the outside.
B.A. in Philosophy from Duke University, 2002. A protégé of Gary Hull.
From his MySpace blog entry for February 1, 2007:
“For my 15,000 word essay on how to defend America (and Israel) against Islamic terrorism, see: [link to “ ‘Just War Theory’ vs. American Self-Defense”]”
Wrote for The Objective Standard until the McCaskey debacle (see below).
Writer for ARI from 2003 to 2004, and ARI occasionally republished his Op-Eds a few years after that. Ph.D. in Philosophy, 2002, University of Texas at Austin. Now teaches philosophy and spoken English at the School of International Business, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China.
Brother of Onkar. Past recipient of an OAC scholarship.
Former Vice-President of Academic Programs. In 2016 she disappeared from ARI’s website and there is no mention of her in ARI’s Form 990 for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. She moved to the Washington D.C. area and is now “director of academic investments in higher education” at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
Senior Fellow at ARI. Dean of the Objectivist Academic Center. Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Calgary in Canada, 1998. In his words “half Indian” (as in India). A permanent resident but, as he said in 2015, not a U.S. citizen. His articles have appeared on the blog of Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to ARI’s Form 990, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015 he received $212,155 in compensation.
Former Media Research Specialist at ARI. Wrote ARI’s letters-to-the-editor, the last in 2008. His “Thank Pinochet” letter (Sept. 15, 2003 – the title wasn’t sarcastic), after making an appearance on ARI’s website quickly disappeared. You’ll find the address of an archived copy at Disappeared from ARI.
Fellow at ARI. Born 1976. B.A. in Philosophy from King’s College, London. Teaches at the Objectivist Academic Center. Wrote for The Objective Standard until the McCaskey debacle.
According to ARI’s Form 990, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015 he received $127,216 in compensation.
Deceased. Ph.D. in Classical Studies from the University of Cambridge. Professor of History at Ashland University for three years under an Anthem Foundation grant. Was a Fellow at the Anthem Foundation, and a researcher at the History and Classics division of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, Bowling Green State University. Then a visiting professor at Duke University; Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program; under a five year $500,000 grant from the Anthem Foundation and BB&T Charitable Foundation. Wrote for Capitalism Magazine and The Objective Standard.
ARI writers sometimes reveal in visits to Israel what they would never in America. We’ve already seen this with Yaron Brook. On 14 December 2008 Mr. Lewis gave a talk in Israel titled “A Policy to Defeat Islamic Totalitarianism” as part of the conference “Facing Jihad” organized by the Ariel Centre for Policy Review, an Israeli group, and held in Jerusalem. ARC helped fund the trip. At one point, after saying that he has visited Israel twice in the last year, he lists a number of virtues he claims Israel possesses. He lists no vices, such as that practically all Israeli industry is state owned. He concludes his list of virtues with: “And Israel is a home for Jews. Why not? Is there any, any group in the world that has faced such oppression as the Jews?” Setting aside how Israeli land was acquired and that Israel has no official borders, we would find Israel’s immigration restrictions unobjectionable. Would that America did likewise! What is objectionable is that ARI writers advocate unrestricted immigration for America (treating the point as crucial) and something quite different for Israel. Different for Israel, that is, when addressing Israelis. For American consumption ARI treats Israel’s immigration policy as a minor vice, softening the criticism with (paraphrasing) “relatively unimportant.”
By the way, all the speakers at the “Facing Jihad” conference were introduced by neocon Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch (a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center – neocons love to insert the word “freedom” here and there as window-dressing). The neocon Daniel Pipes also spoke at the conference. Another disreputable association was that Pamela Geller video-streamed the conference live on her website, which, parroting the title of Ayn Rand’s famous novel after changing the verb tense, she calls “Atlas Shrugs.”
On the main page of his website “John Lewis Ph.D.: History & Classical Ideals” accessed March 2011 was displayed a photo of him captioned “Leading a Seminar, Tel Aviv University, June 2, 2008.” At the upper right were links to “Images from the Classical World—and Elsewhere” and “Images of Israel.”
Mr. Lewis had a harsh, unattractive voice, no music in it at all. And though I wouldn’t say that of Mr. Peikoff, you can sometimes hear the cadence, emphasis and manner of Mr. Peikoff in recordings of Mr. Lewis, a not uncommon second handedness among ARI speakers.
... You concrete-bound mentality you.
You said that rather well Froggy, just as glib as can be. Been taking courses over at ARI’s Objectivist Academic Center?
... It was a joke. You know, something to lighten up your day?
You sarcastic little frog you.
Senior Writer for ARI. B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University 1960, Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology from Cornell University 1964.
Writes about how Israelis would never wantonly harm Palestinians – he has no Internet access perhaps? – and about the behavior of businessmen. We’d rather hear about the businessmen from someone else.
Once wrote for The Objective Standard.
Resident Fellow at ARI. Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Teaches writing, among other subjects, at the Objectivist Academic Center. Once wrote for The Objective Standard.
An attorney for ARI. Co-chairman of ARI’s board of directors along with Michael Berliner. ARI’s website (accessed January 2011) says she also “is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel of Goldman, Sachs & Co.” That’s somewhat misleading. An accurate description would read “a Managing Director,” for there are almost 2,000 of them at Goldman Sachs. She’s a lawyer in their personnel department, specifically she helps manage the Employment Law Group.
ARI puffs this association with Goldman Sachs, despite the revolving door between the company’s executives and government positions and despite the company’s lobbying for federal bailouts of investment banks (couched in terms of “deregulation”).
And despite the company’s amazing dishonesty. For example the case of the Abacus portfolio: Goldman Sachs sold customers securities it expected would fail, then elsewhere sold those securities short (in other words betted against them), letting a few select customers in on the deal. Or the case of James and Janet Baker, inventors of Dragon Systems speech recognition software, cheated out of everything. Association with Goldman Sachs is nothing to be proud of.
In “Greg Smith vs. Goldman Sachs” (Capitalism Magazine, March 27, 2012) Harry Binswanger denounces Mr. Smith as an altruist and says about the head of Goldman Sachs:
I side with Lloyd Blankfein who, in an unguarded moment, spoke from his sense of life in the statement that shocked the altruists: “We’re doing God’s work.”In “Justice for Goldman Sachs” (Capitalism Magazine, May 10, 2010) Harry Binswanger defends Jon Corzine’s move from Goldman Sachs to government, saying:
Mr. Blankfein is known to have a wry sense of humor, and I’m sure that humor was serving there as a cover for saying what he must know: Goldman Sachs is making money by bettering man’s life on this earth.
Such people, from both their education and their experience in running large businesses, know that shady dealings don’t pay.Not long after this Mr. Corzine’s MF Global cheated its customers out of millions of dollars, and got away with it.
Getting back to Ms. Mann, she is President of the Association for Objective Law, or former president, which has been inactive for several years.
Former member of the board of directors (2004-2010) of the Ayn Rand Institute and also of the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, the latter of which he founded in 2001. He has always been financially independent of ARI, indeed a generous donor (until, probably, the event described below), having previous to his association with ARI made money in business and he currently teaches part time, for a while at Stanford University and now at Columbia College in New York City.
On August 30, 2010 Leonard Peikoff demanded of ARI that it remove him from its board of directors, because of critical remarks he had made about a book by David Harriman entitled The Logical Leap based on work by Mr. Peikoff. (ARI supported Mr. Harriman for years while he wrote this book.) Unless ARI removed Mr. McCaskey, Mr. Peikoff threatened, he himself would leave, taking – one assumes – the Ayn Rand trademark and archives with him.
Mr. McCaskey decided to save them the trouble and resign, insisting as a condition that they release a public statement as to why. He should have made them fire him. The details can be found at The Ayn Rand Institute vs. John McCaskey.
As a preview, the following is from the email Leonard Peikoff sent to Arline Mann, legal council for ARI and co-chairman of the board, CC to Yaron Brook, dated August 30, 2010:
I do not want to argue what I regard as facts:Thus if you criticize, even privately (the “forum” was a private gathering of eight academics), Mr. Peikoff’s work (and of course this is not Ayn Rand’s work), you can expect to be thrown out of the Ayn Rand Institute no matter how much you have helped them or him.
That M[cCaskey] attacks Dave[ Harriman]’s book, and thus, explicitly or implicitly, my intro praising it as expressing AR’s epistemology, and also my course on induction, on which the book is based.
I have seen a large part of this criticism myself, and have heard its overall tenor and content from others who attended a forum on the subject. I do not know where else he has voiced these conclusions, but size to me is irrelevant in this context. By the way, from the emails I have seen, his disagreements are not limited to details, but often go to the heart of the philosophic principles at issue.
In essence, his behavior amounts to: Peikoff is misguided, Harriman is misguided, M knows Objectivism better than either. Or else: Objectivism on these issues is inadequate, and M is the one pointing the flaws out.
When a great book sponsored by the Institute and championed by me -- I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism -- is denounced by a member of the Board of the Institute, which I founded, someone has to go, and will go. It is your prerogative to decide whom.
I do understand how much money M has brought to ARI, and how many college appointments he has gotten and is still getting. As Ayn would have put it, that raises him one rung in Hell, but it does not convert Objectivism into pragmatism.
Mr. McCaskey is a contradictory character, having for example given financial support (through the Anthem Foundation) both to John Lewis and Tara Smith – the former was as rotten as they come, the latter’s work is excellent, that is, it would be if we set aside what she does not say.
... She knows how to keep her trap shut.
Now was that nice, Froggy?
Scott A. McConnell
Former Communications Director, now in Archives. (Not to be confused with Scott McConnell of The American Conservative magazine or the one that had been in the Bush Administration.)
Famous for uttering “Let’s Roll” in an ARI Op-Ed on the day of the Iraq invasion.
Born 1933, Canada. Met Ayn Rand when he was 17. Left Canada in 1953 and eventually became a U.S. citizen. Lives in the same city as the offices of ARI: Irvine, California.
Though not a physician ARI announcements always use the title “Dr.” (ARI writers denounce mainstream higher education yet seem proud of their own degrees.) He has a doctorate in Philosophy from New York University, 1964.
From ARI’s website FAQ page (accessed February 2008): “Dr. Leonard Peikoff is Ayn Rand’s legal and intellectual heir ... .” In Mr. Peikoff’s essay “Fact and Value” he refers to himself as “Ayn Rand’s intellectual and legal heir.” Ayn Rand never publicly stated that Mr. Peikoff was her “intellectual heir.” She designated him the sole heir to her estate.
Founded ARI in 1985 about three years after Ayn Rand’s death. August 2008 ARI opened an office in Alexandria, VA near Washington, D.C. called the “Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights” – ARC for short – evidently referring to your individual right to be forced to pay for the support of Israel, the invasion of the Hitler country of the day, and countless immigrants legal and illegal. The Center has since closed.
Mr. Peikoff is the author of The Ominous Parallels (1982). According to his then wife Amy (Objectivism Online Forum, 19 January 2004):
“Rand read over the Ominous Parallels as Leonard was writing it. I’ve seen pages of early drafts marked up in her hand.”
That a man who wrote a book about the parallels between America today and Germany during the rise of the Nazis now helps promote an American police state is beyond weird. Later the chapters dealing with Germany were republished as a separate book, The Cause of Hitler’s Germany (2014).
When asked if he would change anything in OP if he were writing it today he said he would emphasize more the religious element. While he’s making changes he should remove all quotes from Hermann Rauschning’s The Voice of Destruction (also known as Hitler Speaks and Conversations with Hitler 1940) spread throughout the book on a dozen pages, because a year after OP came out the Swiss historian Wolfgang Hänel proved Rauschning’s book a hoax. (Nonetheless Mr. Peikoff retained all these bogus quotes in the 2014 book.)
Mr. Peikoff’s second book was Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991), based on recorded lectures overseen by Ayn Rand in 1976. The hierarchical presentation of the book is original with him, there also seem to be some notions of his own – you will look in vain among Ayn Rand’s works for his idea of “contextual truth” (“certainty through ignorance” as one wit remarked). Contains gratuitous referential vulgarity (later repeated by Harry Binswanger) as if anyone besides college professors and intellectual jerks read such trash. However there are some fine things in the book. There is little hint of the disaster to come.
He’s also the author of many talks, articles, several recorded lecture series, and the book The DIM Hypothesis (DIM is an acronym for Disintegration-Integration-Misintegration. See Presidential Elections – ARI: 2004 on this website.)
From the open letter “To Whom It May Concern” of November 15, 1994 by George Reisman, who had been a member of ARI’s Board of Advisors before being expelled:
“Dr. Peikoff’s failure to urge the policy of containment to Peter Schwartz was all the more surprising in that under the charter of ARI he possessed absolute veto power over all of the Institute’s policies ...”The above is from the time of the George Reisman affair. In 1993 ARI’s Board of Directors, on which sat Harry Binswanger and Peter Schwartz, decided to pay Misters Binswanger and Schwartz about $3,600 ($6,000 in 2016 dollars) each per week to teach at ARI’s Objectivist Graduate Center for about a month and half.
Mr. Reisman and his wife Edith Packer, both on ARI’s Board of Advisors, advised by questioning the propriety of this. (1) Assuming ARI was incorporated in California where it was headquartered, Misters Binswanger and Schwartz could not legally cast deciding votes on projects in which they had a pecuniary interest – though it turned out ARI was, more expensively, incorporated in Pennsylvania which had no such restriction, (2) the money could be better spent, (3) Mr. Schwartz had no expertise in one of the subjects he would teach.
After this Mr. Binswanger, Mr. Schwartz, Michael Berliner (executive director of ARI at the time) and Mr. Peikoff denounced the Reismans, kicked both off the Board of Advisors and eventually out of ARI, refused to promote Mr. Reisman’s then forthcoming book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (which Mr. Schwartz and John Ridpath had previously praised in advance of publication), and required everyone associated with ARI – who wished to remain associated – to break with the Reismans, while refusing to give any reason for all this other than vaguely proclaiming the Reismans “immoral.”
The details are complicated. Whatever you think of Mr. Reisman and his wife – on some non-economical subjects Mr. Reisman today is as bad as ARI – the behavior of their opponents at ARI was ridiculous. See ARI vs. George Reisman.
Yaron Brook’s Lyceum International filled the breach left by the subsequent demise of Mr. Reisman’s Jefferson School, at least as a business that organized Objectivist conferences.
Then there is the David Kelley affair. Mr. Kelley had written some good books on philosophical subjects, but after praising a venomous biography of Ayn Rand by one of her former associates (I skimmed the first quarter of the book in a bookstore, all I could stomach of its pretense at admiring), was expelled from official Objectivist circles. The reason ARI gave, however, was not his praise of the biography, rather that earlier he had lectured at a libertarian gathering (even though in the lecture he exhorted libertarians to change their ways) and later had promulgated his idea of tolerance. Mr. Kelley then founded, in 1990, a group competing with ARI, first calling it the Institute for Objectivist Studies (IOS), then The Objectivist Center (TOC) and now The Atlas Society (TOS). Regarding current political events it’s as bad as ARI.
Speaking of venomous Ayn Rand biography, James Valliant wrote a book in response to such (PARC 2005) under the auspices of ARI (Mr. Peikoff gave him access to Ayn Rand’s journals, including entries that hadn’t been published before). I’m not keen to read about unhappy details of Rand’s private life but from what little I’ve read of Mr. Valliant’s book he seems closer to the truth than his critics.
In some places he overstates his case, like a bad trial lawyer. His prosecution would have been more effective had the journals just been quoted en masse (faithfully) together with the minimum of purely factual background material necessary to make sense of it – factual, not evaluative – then the reader could draw his own conclusion. Mr. Valliant’s own evaluation could be segregated in a chapter at the end.
By the time Mr. Valliant’s book came out the story told by some of Ayn Rand’s former associates had been used for 25 years to trash Objectivism. That Mr. Peikoff took so long to try to reveal Ayn Rand’s side of the story – however incomplete – is difficult to understand.
(Mr. Valliant claims – SOLO Forum, June 2008, though he may edit or delete his posts – that he can reorder someone’s words and it is still a quote “so long as the meaning is undistorted ... .” “To reorder words within the quotation of a phrase is not ‘misquoting’ someone.” – even if there is no indication to the reader that a change was made. He says such reordering is “standard practice.” One wonders where. Clearly the gentleman is not a scholar.)
... I’ve kept quiet —
All right, I’m almost done. Mr. Peikoff hosted a talk radio show 1995 to 1999 (toward the end it featured Andrew Lewis, the producer, more than Mr. Peikoff) which was also broadcast over the Internet. It was mostly a good show, but there were cracks foreshadowing things to come – we comment on some of them in another article. A crack we don’t mention: he once replayed a song attributed to Monty Python – a “South Park moment” you might say – vulgar and trashy (see Andrew Bernstein above). There were a couple of other such moments on other of the shows. At the time I just “tuned it out,” but in truth it revealed a telling lack of taste.
In one of the last lectures of “Objectivism through Induction” (taped) Mr. Peikoff says that he “loved” the movie E.T. I haven’t seen this movie (the movie posters show a grotesquely ugly creature – multiculturalism among the stars) but know from trustworthy reviewers that it puts trash talk in the mouths of children, while projecting a fulsome, inauthentic sentimentality.
Near the end of 1998 Mr. Peikoff accused Robert Hessen of stealing Ayn Rand’s handwritten drafts when Mr. Hessen had known her personally. The accusation preceded a scheduled auction of Ayn Rand memorabilia, including the allegedly stolen manuscripts, organized by the author of the aforementioned biography. Mr. Peikoff was forced to retract his accusation after it proved false. Mr. Peikoff's original accusation was not totally groundless however, as years before Mr. Hessen had been dishonest about the first copy of Atlas Shrugged off the press.
Despite endorsing Bush, through ARI, in 2000, during the 2004 presidential and 2006 congressional elections Mr. Peikoff declared that Objectivists should vote Democrat because the Republicans will set up a Christian theocracy.
Approaching the 2008 presidential election, Mr. Peikoff denounced Ron Paul, who was running for the Republican nomination, in his podcast posted December 23, 2007. He claimed to know nothing about Ron Paul and relied on Yaron Brook’s assessment denouncing him. See Presidential Elections – Ayn Rand & ARI: 2008 on this website. Approaching the 2010 congressional elections he said vote Republican.
Mr. Peikoff broadcasts a weekly pre-recorded podcast. One in February 2012 caused quite a stir, which you can read about at: Leonard Peikoff’s “Presumed Consent” Podcast.
See John McCaskey above.
Canadian. Born 1936. Retired from ARI’s Board of Directors in 2011.
Retired associate professor of Economics and Intellectual History at York University in Toronto. Attended Upper Canada College, then the University of Toronto, receiving a B.S. in Engineering and an MBA (Wikipedia). Swimming champion. Ph.D., Economics, 1974, from the University of Virginia.
Has recorded several lectures, evidently his preferred format. His only Op-Ed at ARI is the George-Washington-would-invade-Iraq-right-now article of February 11, 2003 – see “America Needs a Leader Like George Washington” on this website.
There’s a false note in that Op-Ed, besides its mendacity. The style is wrong, the article doesn’t sound like something Mr. Ridpath would write judging from his public speaking. This may be because ARI subjects its Op-Eds to “slow and extensive editorial reviews” (see the entry for Robert Tracinski below), in other words they’re worked over by a committee. But who knows. Anyway, he put his name on it.
A monograph published in 1990 entitled “On the Independent Pursuit of Justice” claims he duped a friend into barring two student Objectivists from an Objectivist conference in order to cover up a rape accusation by a former girlfriend.
Part time lecturer at Rutgers University, Anthem Foundation Fellow. Co-secretary of the Ayn Rand Society, co-editor of A Companion to Ayn Rand.
Former Chairman of ARI’s Board of Directors.
Founded The Intellectual Activist journal in 1979 and sold it to Robert Stubblefield in 1991 (who in turn sold it to Robert Tracinski, the editor since 1996, in late 2001). According to one contributor, while Mr. Schwartz was owner Mr. Peikoff read and cleared everything before it was printed.
After Ayn Rand’s death Mr. Peikoff took the anthology of her essays she had entitled The New Left: the Anti-Industrial Revolution, added essays by Mr. Schwartz, and changed the title to Return of the Primitive: the Anti-Industrial Revolution.
Author of The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest. One of the few things out of ARI I haven’t read. If it’s true to form it claims that sacrificing Americans to Israel is really in their self interest. I mean Americans’ self interest.
Famous for the essay “Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty” first published in 1985. His argument misses its mark. If you want to show that a movement is no good, you show that its best representatives are no good. That way your reader can conclude: if the best are so bad the whole lot must be rotten. Instead, Mr. Schwartz considers a few crazy people calling themselves libertarians, then concludes that anyone calling himself a libertarian is crazy.
Certainly the root of the word, liberty, is unobjectionable. Ayn Rand was a libertarian when it comes to that. (See Ayn Rand’s Political Label on this website.)
He begins his essay “Snowden and the NSA” with “What the National Security Agency (NSA) has done in spying on Americans is reprehensible – and what Edward Snowden has done is worse.” and goes on to call Snowden a criminal. In “A Follow-up on Snowden” he says, regarding Snowden’s revelations, “... if I had to choose whether to believe a Pentagon assertion that the revelations harm our defense capabilities or a Snowden assertion that they don’t ... I would certainly choose the former.”
See the George Reisman affair under Leonard Peikoff above.
C. Bradley Thompson
Senior writer for ARI. Originally from Canada.
Professor of Political Science at Clemson University, South Carolina. Executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, sponsored by Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T). B.A. 1982 Western State College, M.A. 1984 Boston College, Ph.D. 1993 Brown University.
Writes for The Objective Standard. Managed to write a 14,000 word article about neoconservatives (“The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism” TOS Fall 2006) without once mentioning Israel – some feat.
Author – “with Yaron Brook” – of the book Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea. The text has an earnest sound to it and the quotes Mr. Thompson has dug up by Leo Strauss, David Brooks, and Irving Kristol show the neocons for the fascists they are, but this is just the bread of the sandwich. The meat is Chapter Eight, by Yaron Brook though not bylined, which chapter is poisoned with the very neoconservatism Mr. Thompson pretends to oppose. Altogether a truly Machiavellian performance.
We suspect Mr. Thompson knows which side his bread is buttered on.
Owns and runs Tracinski Publishing Company, based north of Charlottesville, Virginia. It once published The Intellectual Activist “An Objectivist Review,” a hard copy magazine originally founded by Peter Schwartz in 1979 and sold to Mr. Tracinski in 1991, and the TIA Daily email newsletter. In 2012 these ceased publication and Mr. Tracinski replaced them both with the email newsletter “The Tracinski Letter.” He then created an email guide to RealClearPolitics, a mainstream news aggregator website, called “The Daily Debate.” He also contributes to RealClearPolitics and is a senior writer at “The Federalist.”
Mr. Tracinski used to be ARI’s editorial director, a Senior Fellow, and a lecturer in its Academic Center. After starting TIA Daily the amount of his direct ARI work fell off and ARI came to describing him as a senior writer or guest writer. Stopped writing for ARI early in 2004, stopped teaching there sometime in 2005. His articles remained notated “Robert W. Tracinski is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute” until after the congressional election of 2006 when ARI distanced itself from him.
Apparently the reason for the distancing was that beginning November 14, 2006 he began publishing some articles that questioned aspects of Mr. Peikoff’s theory about how ideas influence history. By the end of the month a notice had appeared on Mr. Tracinski’s archived articles on ARI’s website: “Robert W. Tracinski is no longer associated with the Ayn Rand Institute—neither as a writer nor as a speaker.” Later “Robert W. Tracinski was a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute between 2000 [sic] and 2004; he is no longer affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute.” (Other former ARI writers are not treated so harshly in their archived articles.) Later ARI changed the notice yet again, to simply: “Robert W. Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute between 1997 and 2004.” Finally, ARI removed all of Tracinski’s articles from its website. In many cases the press release announcing an article remained, until the revamping of the website in March 2014 when they too disappeared.
Jack Wakeland, a friend of Mr. Tracinski and writer for TIA, wrote on December 21, 2006 (Forum for Ayn Rand Fans):
“Rob Tracinski stopped writing OpEds for ARI about 3-1/2 years ago, he quit his employment there 3 years ago, and completed the last of his writing courses that were contracted through ARI 1-1/2 years ago.Mr. Tracinski wrote (TIA Daily, January 17, 2007):
“Back in 2003 Rob told me that he quit writing for ARI because he was tired of dealing with their slow and extensive editorial reviews. He did not want to spend his time and effort waiting on others for approval to use their press, not when he had one of his own.”
“More than three years ago, I decided to phase out my work for the Ayn Rand Institute in order to focus all of my efforts on TIA. I quit as senior editor of the Institute’s op-ed program in 2003, and my last writing course for the Objectivist Academic Center ended in 2005. I have not worked for the Institute since then, and the old description of me as a “senior writer” for ARI has been out of date for years. So their recent re-write of the byline on my old op-eds does not mean that I was suddenly fired by ARI. Why they chose to change that description now, and why they chose to do it in those particular words, I don’t know.”Not even an inkling?
He has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Chicago. Once worked as a securities analyst for Chicago-based Morningstar Inc.
Studied at the Objectivist Graduate Center. Former chairman of the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism.
His ARI Op-Eds were distributed by Creators Syndicate and published regularly by Jewish World Review. Some of his TIA articles are published there as well.
The place Mr. Tracinski’s The Intellectual Activist once occupied vis-à-vis ARI was taken over by The Objective Standard, a quarterly journal published by Craig Biddle, which in turn ARI abandoned after the McCaskey fiasco.
Fellow at ARI. Co-author with Yaron Brook of Free Market Revolution. Author of another book whose title plays on the word “Obamacare”: RooseveltCare: How Social Security is Sabotaging the Land of Self-Reliance. If he ever writes The Hart-Celler Act: How Third World Immigration is Sabotaging Any Possibility of Repealing AnyKindaCare he’ll be out the window.
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... Is that all? Watkins’s the last?
... Don’t you have something better to do? I mean, what kind of a man would spend twenty hours or whatever it was digging up this stuff? Get a life!
The purpose of ARI Watch is to critically review ARI. Personal details about ARI writers that reveal their intellectual background and methods are grist for the mill. Besides, biography in general is a legitimate occupation. Biographies of the famous and infamous can even be great literature. You wouldn’t tell an author of such: Get a life! – except as a joke.