<< Who’s Who

The Ayn Rand Institute
vs.
George Reisman

George Reisman and his wife Edith Packer were once associates of the Ayn Rand Institute.  Ms. Packer was a founding director, both were on ARI’s Board of Advisors.  ARI promoted their work, including the Thomas Jefferson School which organized conferences on Objectivism. Late 1993  Leonard Peikoff – apparently at the behest of Harry Binswanger and Peter Schwartz – suddenly expelled both Mr. Reisman and Ms. Packer from ARI, and required everyone associated with ARI to shun them. On this page we provide links to HTML versions of memos and letters of that time by many of the people involved. [*]

Only the Reismans’ side is presented. ARI never made a public statement about the expulsion. (The Reismans do quote material written by their opponents, material Mr. Peikoff wanted kept private.) ARI simply “disappeared” the Jefferson School, Ms. Packer, Mr. Reisman, and his book Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics – which ARI had been promoting in advance of publication – without any public explanation.

The December 1993 issue of ARI’s newsletter Impact announced that   “due to irreconcilable (non-philosophical) disagreements with ARI’s Directors, Edith Packer and George Reisman have been asked to step down from the Institute’s Board of Advisors.”  – nothing more.  There were no philosophical differences,  yet – as will be seen below – ARI’s directors not only stopped promoting the Reismans’ work, they forbade anyone remotely associated with ARI from doing so.

Some critics hold Objectivism responsible for the strange behavior of Mr. Peikoff and the others running ARI. We can’t follow their argument. The behavior of these alleged adherents of Objectivism only emphasizes the “alleged.”

Whatever you think of George Reisman, this affair reveals the flaky personalities of some of ARI’s principle actors. Perhaps the dishonesty in their personal lives revealed in what follows reflects their dishonesty regarding political events.

Since money quantities will be mentioned keep in mind that inflation from 1993 to 2012 is about 59%, so $1,000 in 1993 would be about $1,590 today.

Here then are some of the memos and letters from that time. You get an award for perseverance in the face of injured feelings and who said what to whom when – important enough at the time to those involved – if you make it to the end. The Iron Cross or something. Or just read the last two items, by Genevieve and Richard Sanford. They tell the whole story and draw some useful general conclusions about ARI.  This affair goes beyond whether or not Mr. Reisman and Ms. Packer were abrasive personalities, or even rotten to the core, it reaches into the mental processes of the leadership of ARI.

Memo from George Reisman  to Mike Berliner, Harry Binswanger, Peter Schwartz, ARI Board of Advisors.  26 Oct 1993.

Letter from Jerry Kirkpatrick  to George Reisman and Edith Packer.  26 Oct 1993.

Memo from Edith Packer  to Mike Berliner, Harry Binswanger, Peter Schwartz, ARI Board of Advisors.  27 Oct 1993.

Letter from Linda Reardan  to Harry Binswanger, Peter Schwartz, Michael Berliner.  13 Nov 1993.

Opening Statement by George Reisman and Edith Packer  in a conference call with Peikoff, Schwartz, Binswanger, Berliner.  19 Sept 1994.

Memo from George Reisman and Edith Packer  to Leonard Peikoff and ARI Board of Directors.  27 Sept 1994.

Open letter by George Reisman:  “To Whom It May Concern.”  15 Nov 1994.

Letter from Genevieve Sanford  to Leonard Peikoff.  30 July 1995.

Letter from Richard Sanford  to Leonard Peikoff.  30 July 1995.

Letter from Genevieve Sanford  to Michael Berliner.  12 Oct 1995.

Open letter by Jerry Kirkpatrick  to “Contributors and Friends of the Ayn Rand Institute.”  10 Nov 1995.

Letter from Richard and Genevieve Sanford  to Leonard Peikoff.  10 Nov 1995.

Letter from Richard Sanford  to Michael Berliner.  2 March 1996.

Letter from Per-Olof Samuelsson  to Leonard Peikoff.  July 1996.  (See  The Night Watchman  for further commentary by Mr. Samuelsson. We can’t approve violating Mr. Peikoff’s copyright, though apparently Mr. Peikoff caused him to waste a great deal of time and offered him no restitution.)

Open letter by Genevieve Sanford  to “Friends and Acquaintances.”  7 Sept 1996.

Open letter by Richard Sanford  to “All Objectivists.”  7 Sept 1996.

George Reisman’s Capitalism book came out in 1996. His Jefferson School was destroyed as an organizer of conferences though it still publishes literature and audio recordings. The destruction may have been the purpose of the above – Mr. Reisman thought so in 1994 – if the above insanity had any purpose.

This article is not an endorsement of Mr. Reisman or his work. The struggle described above should be viewed not as between opposites but as an internecine struggle – as might be expected from Mr. Reisman’s long association with ARI before falling out of favor. Indeed on some non-economical subjects Mr. Reisman today is as bad as ARI.



*  Except for the letter by Per-Olof Samuelsson this material was divided among three independent collections of papers distributed by  (1) George Reisman (Professor, now Emeritus, of Economics at Pepperdine University’s School of Business and Management, and – as stated above – a former member of ARI’s Board of Advisors) and Edith Packer (as stated above a former member of ARI’s Board of Advisors, and a psychologist whose pamphlets and recordings had been distributed by Second Renaissance Books, associated with ARI);  and their friends:  (2) Jerry Kirkpatrick (Professor of International Business and Marketing at California State Polytechnic University whose book on marketing had been distributed by Second Renaissance Books) and Linda Reardan (former editor of The Intellectual Activist and former student at ARI’s Objectivist Graduate Center – the fiasco described in the text ended both those careers);  and  (3) Richard Sanford (who had a contract to write an article for TIA) and his wife Genevieve (who writes fiction and non-fiction under the name Gen LaGreca, her first novel – published after the events described above – is Noble Vision).  They all gave blanket permission to copy and distribute the papers. We have made a selection from this material. The text had been put into electronic form – bad spelling and grammar preserved – by Chris Wolf, on his own initiative, and he in turn gave blanket permission to distribute the electronic text.

Unfortunately Chris Wolf used this affair to criticize Ayn Rand and her philosophy. He took the inanities of some Objectivists as evidence that Objectivism is inane, whereas we take it as evidence that Mr. Peikoff et al make poor Objectivists. Mr. Wolf’s motivation was to tear down Objectivism, ours is to reveal the nature of the people still running ARI.