<< ARI vs. George Reisman

Letter From Richard Sanford To Leonard Peikoff

Richard Sanford

July 30, 1995

Dear Leonard,

Since you asked Gen about my views vis-a-vis the ARI/Reisman situation, I thought I would express my opinion first-hand. If my comments are presumptuous, I apologize in advance.

I appreciate your asking us for our views directly rather than getting them second hand. Unfortunately, your source did misrepresent my views. First, as Gen will confirm. she and I pretty much agree in our estimate of the situation. For some reason your source included me and left out Gen.

Second, we have neither broken with nor denounced ARI. We have expressed our opinion of the situation, but only to friends and only when they have raised the issue, as you have. On the other hand, at least one person has gone to unusual lengths to discover our opinions without asking us, including quizzing a mutual friend he met on a street in Paris. It is true that we do not endorse all of ARI's recent actions and statements, but we have confined our opinions to our close friends, and only when they ask, rather than make a public statement.

Third, I have never said or implied that "loyalty" is the issue. I have loyalty to you, the Reismans, our other long-time Objectivist friends and mentors, and the values of Objectivism, but loyalty was never the essential issue. The issue here, as I see it, is whether the facts support the charges.

Although I would have greatly preferred to hear your views directly, I did not call out of respect for your privacy and to avoid asking you go over the same unpleasant subject again. I did, however, take great pains to determine from respected Objectivists exactly what you said to them as accurately as possible. For example, I quizzed the three philosophers with whom you conducted an important conference call in September, 1994. If you feel that a direct phone call would be valuable, please let's talk.

Since you are now asking, here is my assessment in a nutshell. Despite claims that the issue is merely a personality conflict, the bulk of ARI-associates' statements and actions against TJS and the Reismans are that ARI-associates consider the Reismans immoral. Given all the evidence available to me, no valid reasons exist to condemn the Reismans as immoral. On the onus-of-proof and innocent-until-proven-guilty principles, I continue to hold them in as high moral standing as I always have. All the other issues (e.g. ARI's management practices, Edith's social graces) are incidental to this moral issue. Objectivists close to you have related to me at least seven reasons, six attributed to you and one to an ARI director, for the Reismans being immoral. I can't presume to know your context in coming to your decision, but, in my context, I would not condemn anyone as immoral for any one or all seven of the reasons combined. I haven't denounced you or ARI, Leonard, but I can't condone in good conscience what I consider an injustice.

This conflict is splitting apart long-time Objectivists and undercutting what ARI and its supporters, including us, have worked for. For the sake of Objectivism and each of our lives, I would like more than anything for ARI to retract its condemnation of the Reismans.

It is very difficult when respected, long-time role models and friends are involved in a conflict. I certainly do not feel comfortable taking issue with you on such a matter, and perhaps you do not appreciate my remarks, but I would risk an impropriety on the chance that my comments to you might contribute a little toward eventually resolving this situation fairly for everybody.


Richard F. Sanford