In this article, Susan L. Brown reviews two collections of essays from ARI, the first collecting essays about Rand's novel Anthem, the second collecting essays about We the Living. Although Ms. Brown's reviews are largely positive in tone, she does see fit to complain of "the failure of its authors to cite the work of other scholars who have dealt with some of the issues involved here, and their dogged persistence in conveying the notion that Ayn Rand ... never really change her mind about anything." I suspect that this latter charge goes to the heart of Rand's psychopathology. When Rand revised We the Living, she claimed that she only made "editorial-line changes." Well, that simply isn't the case. Changes were made in the views expressed in the novel. The 1936 version lacked the ideal-man view of her later novels; it has a somewhat ambivalent attitude toward capitalism; and it contained several passages expressing the Nietzschean view that "character is fate" and that people are born to be what they are.
Rand was clearly embarrassed by these views she held earlier in her development and went out of her way to deny that she had ever held them -- despite the evidence to the contrary. But why should it matter whether she held somewhat different views earlier in her career? There is nothing wrong about changing one's mind. Those of us who are critics of Rand might think she changed for the worse; but her admirers could easily embrace the opposite view. Why, then, should both Rand and her apologists shrink from admitting that she changed her mind? It appears that Rand felt there was something shameful in changing one's mind, as if it were immensely degrading and humiliating. Does this, then, explain her intemperate hostility to the notion that all knowledge is ultimately conjectural and that knowledge is largely the product of trial and error and ceaseless self-criticism? Does it explain her uncompromising dogmatism and her ill-fated, limping theory of "contextual certainty"?