<< ARI Watch
OSI vs. ARI
Carl Barney had been the Ayn Rand Institute’s largest donor by far when in 2018 he suddenly stopped donating. Next year he was voted off the board of directors at the behest of Yaron Brook, and he departed ARI along with his purse. Since then he has paid more attention to his Prometheus Foundation and to Craig Biddle’s The Objective Standard.
On 1 May 2020 Barney announced:
“Dr. Peikoff has given me (Prometheus Foundation ...) permission to publicize and deliver worldwide his courses and lectures.
“He has also granted me permission to use his trademark, ‘Ayn Rand’, as well as excerpts from his and Ayn Rand’s works, which will aid me in marketing. With these assets and my considerable resources, I am eager and ready to ensure that Dr. Peikoff’s courses and lectures reach and continue to reach minds throughout the world.
“I do not intend to start another ARI or to compete with ARI. I don’t intend to establish a new organization of any kind. I intend only to support and fund other organizations and individuals who promote Ayn Rand and advance Objectivism.”
Of course it competes with ARI. Who is he trying to fool?
The announcement, titled “Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s Courses and Lectures,” was headed by a photograph of Peikoff and Barney standing side by side, one arm of each around the shoulders of the other. 
Biddle made the same announcement the same day in a mass-emailing from The Objective Standard. Biddle begins with a bit of autobiography:
“Once upon a time, my life was aimless and somewhat discombobulated. I had lots of friends and fun hobbies, but I lacked an overarching purpose. Only when I learned and began to leverage the principles of Objectivism — Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy for living on earth’ — did I begin to turn my life around.”
He doesn’t say what his aimless life turned to, only that Peikoff’s courses and lectures helped do the turning. Eventually, we observe, he turned to ARI, then to TOS in which he defended Barney’s Scientology career and subsequent career running nominally private but government-dependent colleges.  In November 2019 Barney made him executive director of the Prometheus Foundation.
You need a program to follow the fluid loyalties of organized Objectivism. When in 2010 the fickle Peikoff forced John McCaskey out of ARI,  Biddle defended McCaskey on his personal website, calling Peikoff’s behavior “nonobjective and unjust.”  In 2014, soon after Barney started the Objectivist Venture Fund (which later became Prometheus Foundation), Biddle took down his personal website. He restored it in 2021, both actions perhaps indicating a back-and-forth shift in ARI-TOS relations.
Richard Salsman has a long history with ARI. When he was a graduate student ARI loaned him money for his studies. Later ARI helped raise the money that made possible his current academic position at Duke University. He was a frequent speaker at ARI events. Then the weather changed. In a Facebook post of 29 April 2020 he called Onkar Ghate, ARI’s Chief Content Officer, a “wholly unqualified charlatan ... venerated by the likes of YB [Yaron Brook], TS [Tara Smith], HB [Harry Binswanger] and a host of other sycophants ... .” He described Ghate’s performance in a recent ARI webinar as “dishonest and pathetic,” “wholly lacking in rational content,” “devoid of any coherent argument,” etc.
In another Facebook post, a reply to someone else, Salsman wrote: “The Yaron Brook Show? ... it’s garbage. Second-hand trash. Unoriginal. Borrowed. Filched. ... Worse, it’s uninformed. ... he is now a mere wannabe Jordan Peterson. Pathetic.” Brook has left “the life of principle and integrity” and consequently detests “those who retain those virtues.” The following should be singular instead of plural because Brook is the only one at ARI who has moved to Puerto Rico to avoid paying income taxes: “Sunshine patriots, they cravenly flee to and podcast from the decadence of places like Starnseville – aka Puerto Rico. Real heroes. To Hell with them ...”
Salsman may have gone too far in the eyes of his associates because soon afterwards his name disappeared from the masthead of TOS. Then on May 6th Biddle mass-emailed an announcement titled “Richard Salsman is no longer with TOS,” saying that Salsman’s behavior was “non-objective and unprofessional” and affirming his removal from the masthead.
Later the same day Salsman deleted the Facebook post of April 29th (the second had been deleted earlier, either by him or the person to whom it was a reply). He then issued an apology of sorts which began: “In two recent posts I harshly criticized a handful of people who I know to have misused ARI to besmirch solid Objectivists and Objectivist organizations whom they oppose and in consequence have risked devaluing Ayn Rand’s reputation.” He says posting as he did was a mistake because “FB isn’t the forum for that, since the matter requires lots of information, background, context, and judgment that most readers don’t have.”
The previous month Barney had announced in a blog post that Salsman would co-host a “Rand Camp” in May under the auspices of his Prometheus Foundation. The event had to be canceled when the venue closed due to the coronavirus. Barney never commented publicly on Salsman’s conduct.
Much of what Salsman said about ARI is true, expressed in intemperate language, but look who’s talking. In some respects TOS is even worse than ARI and at the time of his outburst he had been a contributing editor for nine years.  And speaking of sycophancy, how to explain Salsman defending Carl Barney’s Scientology career?  Would that there were an insider critic to root for but Salsman does not deserve our applause.-oOo-
Nor does Carl Barney.
When Barney announced that he had permission to republish Peikoff’s courses and lectures he said, “I do not intend to start another ARI or to compete with ARI. I don’t intend to establish a new organization of any kind.” Yet only a few days later, on 22 May 2020, Biddle announced the creation of a non-profit educational organization called Objective Standard Institute (OSI) “related to but distinct from The Objective Standard (TOS).” OSI’s mission statement reads like ARI’s, with the teaching of “related ideas for living fully” added. And indeed there is a self-help, Tony Robbins aspect to the organization, reminiscent of the Scientology claims of yesteryear.  (Some course titles: “Your Supersystem for Flourishing,” “Thinking for Thriving,” “Entrepreneurial Living: How to Profit in Business and Life,” “The Art of Finding and Creating Opportunity,” etc.)
OSI’s website was in a mature state of development the day it was announced, and OSI had advertised for a Director of Technology at least two months before that. It’s first Form 990 begins 4 November 2019.  Obviously OSI had been planned months before its announcement. Even as Barney was saying he had no intention of starting another ARI, he was helping those who were.  
The Ayn Rand Centre UK (funded by Barney’s Prometheus Foundation) hosted a celebration of Leonard Peikoff’s career on 15 October 2020, his 87th birthday. It was livestreamed on YouTube. Besides the guest of honor the following participated: Carl Barney, Andrew Bernstein, Ellen Kenner, Kira Peikoff, and Lisa VanDamme. Peikoff had no problem being toasted by Barney and listening to his fulsome praise. Notable by their absence were Yaron Brook and the other top people at ARI. 
Carl Barney, Andrew Bernstein, and Peikoff’s daughter made short speeches. Peikoff thanked his daughter for her remarks then said:
“Now I also want to thank Carl, who has made my life so much easier in my old age by basically giving me everything he owns. So he’s been very, very generous.” 
It’s hard to understand. Peikoff must be fairly well off, a never-ending stream of royalties from Rand’s novels and anthologized essays flowing into his bank account. Why does he need money, from Barney or anyone else? And after the obvious hyperbole, “basically giving me everything he owns,” one would like to have heard some concern for how Barney acquired what he so generously gives him.
On 26 May 2021 Barney complained on his blog that ARI had cancelled his registration to that year’s OCON, which he had attended “for about the last 40 years (before it was even called OCON).”
The feud between Barney / Biddle and ARI (mainly Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate, later Harry Binswanger and Peter Schwartz) is revealed in several of Barney’s other blog posts. One made quite a splash in Objectivist circles, “ARI Is Failing and Needs Our Help” (3 November 2020). To those at the time who saw Barney as some kind of hero I wrote:
Barney’s post should make the opposite impression of what he pretends to make. Apparently his purpose is not to unite ARI but to fragment it further, not to help ARI but to tear down what’s left of it.
And his and Biddle’s Objective Standard Institute is waiting to fill the void. Barney has Peikoff’s permission to use the Ayn Rand trademark, thus OSI is poised to replace ARI.
Peikoff is making the same blunder he made with Yaron Brook, setting up Barney as master teacher of Objectivism.
Barney has no business lecturing us using words like good, decency, vision, productive, quality, inspiration, vibrant, life-affirming, intellectual standards, etc. – Barney of the fraudulent Scientology past and fraudulent CollegeAmerica present [now past as well].
Whatever valid criticisms of ARI that Barney makes, we’d rather hear them from someone else. Just as we would be reluctant to take lectures in arithmetic from a former embezzler, we should be reluctant to take lectures on how to spread Rand’s philosophy from someone as unrepentant about his past money-acquiring methods as Carl Barney. 
In a blog entry of 18 November 2020 Barney complains that ARI isn’t charging enough for their products:
“ARI is calling a mobile app ‘Ayn Rand University.’
... using it to give away all of Ayn Rand’s and Leonard Peikoff’s lectures and courses for free
! Are Rand’s and Peikoff’s materials worth nothing? Compare how The Objective Standard
(TOS) and Objective Standard Institute (OSI) operate. They charge for subscriptions and for courses – OSI has waiting lists for their paid courses.
“ARI has disintegrated Leonard Peikoff’s courses by breaking them into individual lectures and placing them on YouTube for free. (Dr. Peikoff told me that he is extremely unhappy about it). I regard this as serious debasement.”
And again on 13 March 2021 he laments that:
“... despite my urging of many years, he [Yaron] refuses to charge for Leonard Peikoff’s courses ... . Not charging for Leonard’s and Ayn Rand’s works devalues and debases them. ... When I look at ARI’s treatment of Leonard’s courses, in particular, I see lack of respect.”
I know what he means. I feel pretty debased myself, giving away these ARI Watch essays for nothing ! I get a lot of abuse about it too; Samuel Johnson even called me a blockhead.
Seriously, do we detect shades of Barney’s Church of Scientology marketing experience here? 
On 17 February 2021 Barney dishes the dirt on Ghate:
“Dr. Peikoff told me that Onkar Ghate (‘Chief Philosophic Officer’ at ARI) was the worst student he ever had. He said this several times with emphasis. ... [When asked he said] that it was okay to repeat, but to be sure to explain what it meant ... Onkar was the worst rationalist by far he had ever encountered.”
All the above suggested a shift of official Objectivism from ARI-Brook to OSI-Barney/Biddle, but if there was a shift happening it soon got reversed. The first indication that something was wrong came on 3 February 2021 when Barney complained (via his blog) that ARI was refusing to give him copies of Peikoff’s courses and lectures as Peikoff, he says, told them to do. It’s hard to understand. ARI offers copies of Peikoff’s courses and lectures to the public (in some cases for free); Barney could simply purchase them. Their value is in the content not the medium. Furthermore, why take this problem to his readers? Surely Peikoff has copies himself he could lend. In any case Peikoff owns the copyrights and ultimately controls ARI (see the McCaskey affair [3 again] ) though at his advanced age he may have wanted to avoid the strife pressuring them would entail.
Barney resigned himself to defeat without a fight, writing, “I cannot deliver Dr. Peikoff’s courses as I had originally planned.” This suggests that in fact Peikoff changed his mind about giving Barney permission, though there might have been some legal problem that Peikoff didn’t want to deal with. Barney ends his complaint with a request to readers: “perhaps you will speak up and try to persuade Yaron Brook to rethink his position.” Are we being told the whole story?
What really tore it was ARI’s announcement on 17 January 2022, titled “Ayn Rand’s Property After Peikoff?” It consisted of a letter from Peikoff to ARI dated 23 November 2021 which he requested be made public. He says that his will leaves all copyrights of Rand’s work to the Ayn Rand Institute. He gives as his reason (emphasis his): 
“To my own detailed knowledge of its policy and actions, ARI is the only organization that fosters Objectivism in the way that she [Rand] sought. ARI is by far the best option – and it is the only group that I myself endorse.”
It looks like Barney, Biddle, and OSI get left out in the cold.
Update: Checking 14 June 2022, the letter is still on ARI’s website but the copy on Peikoff’s website has been replaced with [15 again]
“Dr. Peikoff is revising some of the formulations in his property statement. In due course he will reissue the statement.”
Update: Peikoff reissued his statement 12 July 2022. The copyrights to Rand’s three novels now go to his daughter, all other copyrighted work by either Rand or Peikoff go to the Ayn Rand Institute. He repeats his reason (emphasis his): [15 again]
“I have chosen ARI because, in my judgement, it is the only organization that fosters Objectivism in the way that Ayn Rand sought. ARI is by far the best option – and it is the only such group that I myself endorse.”
Once on his radio talk show in the late 1990’s someone asked Peikoff why Rand had chosen him as her legal heir. He modestly replied, “I was the only one left.” Rand’s fire-sale choice of Peikoff as her legal heir eventually resulted in the creation of the Ayn Rand Institute, something she had specifically warned against.  ARI may have begun harmlessly enough but after 2000, the year Peikoff chose Yaron Brook to lead the organization, it went downhill rapidly. Under Brook’s direction ARI substantially became – in its “policy and actions” of which Peikoff so approves – a cultural-leftist, anti-America institution, as documented at length on this website, from promoting open immigration and mail-in ballots to wars for Israel. Now Peikoff has ensured that ARI’s intellectual subversion of Rand’s work, and the treating of her errors as gospel, goes on in perpetuity. 
As the two Obleftivist organizations ARI and OSI squabble over Rand’s intellectual legacy, a plague on both their houses.
1 The photograph can be considered the first in a pair, the second being of Barney and Richard Minns likewise standing side by side very chummy (TOS 6 June 2019). Taking “degree of separation” to mean not merely knowing but associating with, together the two pictures show in visual terms that Peikoff is two degrees of separation from a psychopath:
Peikoff & Barney ←→ Barney & MinnsSee Who Is Richard Minns? on this website.
ARI featured a photo Minns’s grotesque sculpture, “Atlas Shrugged III – I Own the World !,” (Minns modeled the face after his own) on its website:
but after the page being up several years removed it sometime in 2022. Since Peikoff never objected to Minns using the Atlas Shrugged trademark to name his sculptures, make that one degree of separation.
2 About Barney’s long career in Scientology see Barney’s Big Lie and the other articles about Barney on this website. Who Is Carl Barney? describes how he worked his trade school business. The End of Barney’s Second Career describes its long, drawn-out end.
3 The details are complicated. See The Ayn Rand Institute vs. John McCaskey.
4 “Justice for John P. McCaskey” by Craig Biddle (29 October 2010) and “Answers to Questions about ‘Justice for John P. McCaskey’ ” (10 November 2010).
5 TOS promotes the same open borders, anti-white neurosis as ARI does. (For an example of the latter see Valedictorians of Yesteryear.) And like ARI they promoted homosexual “marriage” knowing full well that the so-called “Civil Rights” laws would shove it down our throats. Among half a dozen such articles:
(The lead photo is like that in ARI’s now moribund The Undercurrent:
And they promote perversion, which beats ARI – at least the public ARI:
All of this was published when Salsman was a TOS contributing editor. And he worries about devaluing Ayn Rand’s reputation?
The point of what TOS is doing here – in common with ARI and with Leftists – is to soften you up, make you feel defeated by disgust, accept chaos, and in the end accept anything.
6 See Barney Tells His Story.
7 Such as The Auditor, the Church of Scientology’s house journal when Barney was running his missions in the 1970s. Besides saying Scientology will give you superhuman powers, it featured claims of more realistic advantages as well as testimonials of the practical successes enjoyed by various rank-and-file Scientologists.
8 OSI tried to get an H-1B visa for the employee in March 2020 and gave as its location Laguna Hills, California where both Biddle and Barney reside.
Craig Biddle lived in Virginia when TOS was founded and incorporated it in that state. He later moved to Laguna Hills, California to be near VanDamme Academy, probably before he made Barney’s acquaintance. OSI is incorporated in Virginia but headquartered in Laguna Hills.
OSI’s first Form 990 is for the “tax year beginning 11-04-2019, and ending 12-31-2019” and signed June 15th of the following year.
It appears the charity was initially capitalized at $90,000. Page 1 lists Craig Biddle as president. Page 7 lists Sarah Biddle as President & Secretary, and Craig Biddle as Treasurer. For the somewhat under two month period covered by the form, their combined compensation was $9,000.
9 An article on TOS’s website purports to explain Biddle’s reasons for creating OSI: “Why We Created Objective Standard Institute” (29 May 2020). The article does not address the financial advantages of having a non-profit associated with TOS, as if money had not been an important consideration in creating OSI. That’s a bit disingenuous.
The Objective Standard magazine was set up as a for-profit. That way it could comment freely on political issues. The trouble is, donations to a for-profit are not tax-deductible. Without the deduction, middle-class and affluent TOS supporters are less inclined to donate. Furthermore, a for-profit must pay taxes on large donations.
A donation to a non-profit, on the other hand, is tax-deductible for the donor and the non-profit is never taxed. Biddle, according to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, applied to Barney’s Objectivist Venture Fund (precursor to Prometheus Foundation) and received a sizable grant to create OSI, to be set up as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charity. In some ways OSI can help support TOS, such as giving fellowships to writers, without being subject to certain taxes.
Some TOS activities that competed with ARI have been off-loaded onto OSI, such as conferences (TOS-Con), courses, and podcasts.
10 Barney is actively involved in OSI’s activities, as shown in a slickly written Facebook post of 1 February 2021 by “Project Arizona”: “We are super happy because we traveled to Southern California to attend an Objectivism Seminar hosted by Carl Barney and Craig Briddle.” The post includes four photos from the event: Barney lecturing, Biddle lecturing, Barney and others in a panel discussion, and Barney and Biddle lecturing together. The event was held in Carl Barney’s house. See:
11 It was here that Peikoff surprised everyone by saying, emphatically, that he was voting for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. (It was a surprise because in 2016 he had said emphatically that he was not voting for Trump and told those wanting to know why to ask Yaron Brook, who hated Trump as much then as now.) After the moderator said they were going off YouTube, Mr. Peikoff interrupted and said (he uses the word “arguing” in the sense of arguing for, explaining why):
Well now, he must know who he heard. Even if he meant to say “heard that someone said” rather than “heard someone say,” he would have asked or been told who it was. And why be upset if it was a nobody in Objectivist circles? Obviously he was referring to Yaron Brook. In Brook’s podcast of 22 July 2019 Brook had said (emphasis his, on top of a strident delivery throughout):
“I want to add one sentence.
I am voting for Trump.
That’s it, ok?
I’m not arguing but I heard somebody say ‘No Objectivist would vote for Trump’ and I’m still steaming over that.
I’m trying to publicize the fact that whoever said that is crazy.”
“Those of you who are apologists for Donald Trump, please
never use the word ‘Objectivist’ to associate it [Objectivism] with yourself. Because you cannot be Objectivists, you are not
Objectivists, if you apologize for this guy.
“And you are not doing anybody a favor by selling-out, selling-out
the fundamental ideas that we believe in. For the sake of what? Popularity, for the sake of defeating the left?
“You are sell-outs
, you are the fifth-column within Objectivism.”
So after Peikoff’s public statement Brook had a problem. On his next podcast he assured his viewers that he and Peikoff have been close friends for 25 years and still are, that only the day before the livestreamed event he had attended Peikoff’s birthday party at his house.
“Once in a while we disagree. ... We disagree on Trump. We disagree on Trump’s performance in office. And we disagree about whether one should vote for Trump or not, and the importance of voting for Trump in this coming election. Yes, we disagree. I’ve known this for three years at least that I disagree with Leonard Peikoff on this. ... The fact that we disagree about Trump means that we don’t talk politics that much when we get together, but we are still close friends. And over the last few weeks I have spent many, many, many hours with Leonard. Listening to music, swimming in the pool, chatting, talking. Politics comes up here and there. But we have not devoted our discussions to politics. Life is rich. Politics is not the funnest topic to talk about in the world. It’s not what I enjoy particularly.
He chatters on like that for several minutes, all the while avoiding the point: the inconsistency of his “fifth column” outburst with Peikoff – the official Objectivist – supporting Trump as much as to vote for him.
Furthermore, he tried to deny that Peikoff had been referring to him. In answer to the question: “Leonard Peikoff just said on video he was proudly voting for Trump. ... When Peikoff referenced the person who said Trump voters couldn’t be Objectivists, is it possible he meant your comment that Trump apologists couldn’t be Objectivists?” Brook replied (emphasis his):
We interrupt. That flies in the face of everything Brook has said about Trump over the previous four years. Brook continues:
“First, he never said in the video that he’s proudly voting for Trump, he never used the word ‘proudly’. He was obviously adamant about voting for Trump, that’s Leonard. There’s no problem with that, I’ve never had a problem with anybody voting for Trump, it depends on your reasons.”
“And when he said that somebody said that if you’re an Objectivist you couldn’t vote for Trump, and he thought that was crazy and he was mad about that, I don’t know if he was referring to me. Now, he wasn’t referring to me because I said that, because I never actually
said that. But, there are a lot of people who don’t like me. ... Some of them might even have Leonard’s ear. And is it possible that somebody told
Leonard that I said it? It is. I don’t know. I don’t think so, because I have a feeling he would have told me. ... So I don’t think he was referring to me. So he’s not referring to me first hand, he might be referring to me because somebody whispered in his ear, somebody gave him wrong information, and again, there are plenty of people, plenty of people, out there who would love
to turn Leonard Peikoff against me. I don’t think they’re gonna be successful. I think our relation[ship] is stronger than that.”
Quite a performance in splitting hairs and denying facts. For this little weasel’s actual words on Trump and the 2020 presidential election, see Biden Must Win or America is Doomed and Shysters.
As for Peikoff, if he had honestly thought it important that Trump win the 2020 election instead of Biden, he – or someone acting on his behalf – would have written and spoken out frequently and at length in support of Trump. He doesn’t deserve much praise for five words on an obscure podcast. (If Brook had not made his “No Objectivist” speech would we even know of Peikoff’s position?)
12 Starting at 1:20:43,
13 Admittedly only Barney may be in a position to know about some ARI affairs and be willing to go public about them. The question is, can he be trusted?
14 As for Rand, I seem to recall that the prices of her paperbacks increased substantially right after her death. If that is correct then she had been offering them at well below market value.
Another point in the form of a rhetorical question: Barney hates public libraries?
15 The announcement is on ARI’s website:
and on Peikoff’s:
The text of both notices was updated 12 July 2022.
16 See Ayn Rand on Organized Objectivism.
Peikoff could have placed Rand’s work in the public domain. Obviously the purpose of giving it to ARI was to finance ARI.
OSI offers the same poison as ARI in new bottles. In a way ARI is better in that it is poorly managed, ineffectual, and anyone can see it is crazy. OSI is slick and well funded by, among other donations, Barney’s ill-gotten gains. When an organization spreads poison, inefficiency is better.
There are other alternatives open to Peikoff besides placing the copyrights in the public domain. To insure the integrity of individual works he could have his lawyer set up a small corporation and give the copyrights to it. The corporation would be chartered to allow any publisher to print individual works in whole without comment, and the publisher would pay only a tiny royalty, just enough to fund the corporation, enjoined by its charter to do nothing else but watch over the copyrights.
17 Making Peikoff’s praise of ARI and his future bequest even more inexplicable is that on 13 February 2022, less than a month after the announcement, he issued a public statement supporting several positions that ARI opposes.
Amy Peikoff had emailed him requesting his comments on the Canadian truckers and he agreed to appear on her podcast. In the ensuing interview he not only supported the truckers, he lamented the election fraud in 2020, referred to Edward Snowden as a hero, and Big Tech as anti-American.
Does he mean it? Recall a previous appearance on Amy’s podcast when the occasion was his having made a strong statement on his own podcast opposing Hispanic immigration, and by implication all Third World immigration. At the end of a discussion/debate with Yaron Brook which Amy moderated, Peikoff completely reversed himself and apologized for his earlier statement like Trilby hypnotized by Svengali. See Leonard Peikoff on Yaron Brook and Immigration.
So his latest statement may be written on water as well. He hasn’t put his thoughts in a published article. He doesn’t point out the contradiction with ARI or explain why he has been supporting ARI all these years and just affirmed that support. His speech on an obscure podcast is too little too late. Still, setting aside the hypocrisy, separated from his other work and taken by itself, it was a few minutes of reason: rumble.com/vuv5ak-leonard-peikoff-salutes-the-truckers.html
Published 4 February 2022. Corrected 10 February. Material added 15 February and 14 June, updated 25 August. This article is an extensive update of “The Center of Mass Shifts Further,” published in June 2020.