<< ARI vs. George Reisman

Letter from Richard Sanford to Michael Berliner

March 2, 1996

Dr. Michael S Berliner
The Ayn Rand Institute
4640 Admiralty Way Suite 715
Marina Del Rey, CA, 90292

Dear Mike,

This is in reply to your letter of February 21, in which you rejected my request on behalf of the Society for Objective Science for 50 to 100 of Ayn Rand's pamphlets entitled "Environmentalism: The Anti-Industrial Revolution," which ARI has provided to SOS in the past. You mention the discontinuance of Gen's and my contributions to ARI, our "most recent letter to Leonard" (implying you have seen our previous letters to Leonard, as well), and the fact that you haven't heard any disavowals by us of the Reisman's alleged "attacks on ARI" as reasons for your surprise at my requesting the pamphlets.

If your refusal to supply SOS with pamphlets is based on Gen's and my recent lack of contributions to ARI, SOS would be willing to pay a reasonable cost for the pamphlets, even though our past contributions would have compensated ARI for thousands of pamphlets. Or will you make all ARI materials unavailable to us and to SOS at any cost because we have not backed you in morally condemning the Reismans? Please clarify your position. SOS wants to include Miss Rand's work among its material for promoting Objectivism in the future. However, if a condemnation of the Reismans is a precondition for obtaining Ayn Rand's material from ARI, please let us know, and this letter will be the last you receive from Gen and me.

Although this is not the central issue (which I saved for the end of my letter), Gen and I could object to Leonard's showing you our private correspondence with him, to your reading it, and to your acting against SOS because of it. You have made the privacy of letters a major reason for condemning the Reismans. In your letter of October 20, 1995, you said that, because of their dissemination of private memos, you were "not willing to count them as advocates of property rights." However, last summer, Leonard, by his own admission, and without our knowledge or consent, took a half hour of his public lectures to rebut a private letter that he had asked us to write to him. Although he omitted our names, his attack on the "agnostic' bogeyman directly caused one student of his to break a contract with me at my considerable expense. How do you and Leonard reconcile denouncing the Reismans for copying letters while you and Leonard use our private letters to harm us, who have attacked no one?

So please help me interpret your refusal to supply SOS with a few of Ayn Rand's pamphlets. I would appreciate your clarifying if and whether your policy, if it is a policy, is directed at just me, or also at Gen and SOS. If SOS is now an organization non grata, please remember that SOS has been an Objectivist organization in good standing for five years, includes several hundred serious Objectivists, reaches hundreds of non-Objectivists, and has an independent board of directors. So you should think twice about equating me with SOS and making SOS suffer because you object to my keeping silent on an issue that I was not involved in.

Please also remember what we have to base a decision on concerning the Reismans. Note that Leonard did not provide one shred of evidence against the Reismans in response to our letters to him requesting facts, but instead chose to impugn our epistemology. Recall your statement to us regarding the Riesmans that "much of the 'evidence' was in personal conversations with me, Harry et al. so it's basically my (our) word against theirs. Also, most of this occurred well over a year ago, and the details have hardly been in the forefront of my consciousness." In other words, the evidence is hearsay and you've forgotten most of it anyway. Nevertheless, you want us, who were never involved in the original disputes, to make a decision based on evidence that you and Leonard can't remember or chose not to give out, to condemn life-long friends who have made tremendous contributions to Objectivism.

Am I to tell my membership that in order to obtain Ayn Rand's pamphlets from ARI, Gen and I must abandon the honest, independent judgment of our minds to blindly support your unsubstantiated conclusion about the character of two persons, and that it is no longer important to be Objectivists in philosophy and personal conduct, but essential to submit to pressure and agree with your conclusions in a matter we cannot take seriously because of your failure to offer proof? Are you and I talking about the same Ayn Rand, whose heroes in the valley wanted Dagny to join them, but advised her as follows:

"Consider the reasons which make us certain that we are right, but not the fact that we are certain. If you are not convinced, ignore our certainty. Don't be tempted to substitute our judgment for your own."

"Don't rely on our knowledge of what's best for your future. We do know, but it can't be best until you know it."

"Don't consider our interests or desires. You have no duty to anyone but yourself."

Are Gen and I to have our epistemology attacked, to have our contracts broken, to be denied Ayn Rand's pamphlets, and to be ostracized for our integrity? If you now require agreement with your group to replace the conviction of our independent minds, then how do you justify administering the institute bearing Ayn Rand's great name? Please reply.


Richard F. Sanford, Ph.D.