Sunday, January 18, 2009

PARC: The Compleat Debunking

James Valliant's "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics" is to literary biography what "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was to cinema. Now the indefatigable Neil Parille has compiled his series of posts critiquing this uber-weird tome - which has become a kind of cultic litmus for Objectivism - into one essential essay. Parille concludes:
"Simply put, James Valliant's PARC is filed with erroneous readings of sources, poor research, double standards, dubious reasoning and a profound unwillingness to come to terms with evidence that undermines its case."
In other words, it is written according to Objectivism's standard operating procedure.

11 comments:

Michael Prescott said...

Neil kindly sent me an electronic copy of his essay a couple of months ago, but unfortunately I got caught up in other things and neglected it. I had read some of his earlier writings on this subject, but your post inspired me to finally read the essay in its final form. I enjoyed it immensely and was impressed with his tenacity, attention to detail, and gentlemanly restraint.

I'm not in the best position to evaluate all of Neil's points because I haven't read Valliant's book. But I have read the Brandens' books, and from the passages in PARC quoted by Neil, it's clear that Valliant has frequently misreported the Brandens' accounts, and moreover has gone out of his way to ascribe the most malevolent possible motives to the Brandens, when other, much more innocent motives are more plausible. (I say this even though I'm not a particular fan of either Nathaniel Branden, who strikes me as basically a manipulator, or Barbara Branden, who seems almost willfully naive when it comes to acknowledging Rand's many flaws.)

It's also striking to learn that Valliant apparently did not take the opportunity to listen to the archival tapes collected by ARI, even when the content of those interviews bore directly on the events under discussion.

Neil Parille said...

Hi Michael,

Glad you liked it. I'd recommend buying Valliant's book, if only to see just how bad it is. Incidentally, the first part of the book (which is what I critiqued) was available on the web. Valliant took this piece and showed it to Peikoff, which led Peikoff providing him with the diaries. Even if Peikoff hadn't read the Branden books (which is possible) it doesn't make him look good.

Brendan said...

“James Valliant's "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics" is to literary biography what "Plan 9 From Outer Space" was to cinema.”

I think you’re being a bit harsh on “Plan 9”, which was at least a labour of love. What I could never figure was: why Plan 9? What happened to plans 1-8?

Otherwise, I look forward to reading this response to Valliant’s claims.

Neil Parille said...

Michael,

Yes, Valliant did not listen to any of the nearly 300 hours of interviews done by the Ayn Rand Archives even though he had complete access.

His justification is that you need interviews to write a biography, but not to critique one. I kid you not.

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear and direct about Rand's behavior in regards to her husband. She was psychologically cruel towards him and diabolically manipulative. No human being deserves to be treated in that manner. See the term "gaslighting" as it relates to psychological abuse.

Yes, Ayn Rand certainly does deserve to be passionately criticized. But her adherents continue to promote circuitous explanations of her tawdry personal life.

KingBushwicktheToityToid said...

Ayn Rand was basically a hack writer whose ideas on finance and business are somehow treated as Gospel!!!

Yes,she was a smart woman,there's no doubt about that.
Then again,my late Mother was a smart woman.
Granted,my Mother only had a High School Education,but she was well read and knew a lot about life!!

And unlike Ayn Rand,my Mom was a loving and faithful Wife;Mother and Grandmother!!!

Like Ms.Rand,she had an"Objectionist Theory".
Her"Objectionist Theory"was
if it was something you wanted to do but she objected to it,her theory was a flat out"No"!!!

And it's kinda strange that as much as the GOP loves to wave the banner of"Family Values"they love to quote Ayn Rand!!!

Ayn Rand had an affair with a married proffessor and persuaded
him to divorce his wife and marry her!!!

Then again,'Dr.'Laura Schlessinger did the same thing and Newt Gingrich divorced his first wife while she recovered from Cancer Surgery and divorcd his second wife because"She Didn't Have The Right Appearance To Be a Senator's Wife!!".*
(*Hmm!!You know,in some ways that's almost the plotline of
'Legally Blonde'!!!
Well,minus the adultery and messy divorces of course!!
In'Legally Blonde',Reese Witherspoon's"Elle Woods"character is dumped by her fiance because she wasn't the type of wife a future senator needs to have!!
So,she goes to Harvard Law and gives him a world class beatdown!!
And Reese Witherspoon's a lot cuter than Newt Gingrich!!).

And her whole"Greed Is Good!!"attitude kinda reminds me of Michael Douglas's Character of Gordon Gekko in"Wall Street"!!!

Hmm!!Okay,put a wig;makeup;high heels;pantyhose and a power suit
on Gordon Gecko and you've got Ayn Rand!!

And she had a very elitist attitude towards the average people!!

Essentially,her attitude was
"Okay.Your Bank Failed;Your Company Moved Operations to China;
Your'e Out Of Work and Your Home's Been Foreclosed!!
What Do You Want Me To Do About It???!!Shyt Happens!!!".

And for someone who claimed to hate both Communism and Fascism,
her tendency to demand complete loyalty by her admirers and'followers'woulda made Hitler;Stalin and Chairman Mao green with envy!!

Plus,it coulda been a page from a Cult Leader like Manson;Koresh and Jones's Handbook!!!

BTW-Yes"Plan 9 From Outer Space"wasn't a classic like
"The Searchers"or"To Kill a Mockingbird"!!
But,unlike followers of Ayn Rand,people who watch"Plan Nine"
realize it's a very bad D Movie
and treat it as such!!
"It's a Dog Eat Dog World Out There
and I'm Wearing Meat Pajamas!!"
-Stewie Griffin.

Cavewight said...

Multiple exclamation points are a waste of time. And they really should not be used except with interjectory remarks.

KingBushwicktheToityToid said...

Cavewright,sorry that you don't like my use of multiple exclamation points!!

However,America's still a free country despite what certain types on both the left and right try to tell you!!

Yes,there are both liberails and conservatives who'd love to wipe their patooties with the Constitution!!!

I realize I'm just an onery old Scots-Irish SOB with a High School Education,but but I'm not about to read"Atlas Shrugged"or"The Fountainhead"anytime soon!!

I did read Larry McMurtry's"Lonesome Dove"saga
though!!
A lot more entetrtaining than any
of Ayn Rand's farces!!

However,I'm sure that when Raygun died in 2004,she met him as soon as he walked in!!!

And I'm sure theyr'e both "Takin'It Down The Ol'Hershey Highway"by Satan daily!!!

"The greatest thing about America is that you can get a hamburger as big as your head or a marshmallow as small as your pinky toe!!"-Randall'Doo'Hickey(Ethan Suplee):"My Name Is Earl".

caroljane said...

Mr. King Bushwack XXXIII, certainly have an exuberant Sense of Life.

KingBushwicktheToityToid said...

Yep!!"Objectivism"is just as much a cult as Scientology!!!
Only instead of B Level Actors like tom Cruise;Kirstie Alley and
Leah Remini;you have B List Actors like John Voight;Angelina Jolie and
hack politicians like Newt Gingrich
and Phil Gramm!!

Let's face it:Both Scientology and Objectivism both have their leaders who demand total obeyance:
Scientology-L.Ron Hubbard and Objectivism-Ayn Rand.

Intersting little factoid:As much as she preached about"Less Government",at the end of her life
she developed Lung Cancer from smoking!!

Guess what:She wound up in the hospital to be treated for cancer.
And guess what else:Medicare and Social Security paid for her treatment!!

So much for her dislike of government!!!
"More people die of smoking everyday than from war in Vietnam!!"
-Luanne Platter:King of The Hill.

KingBushwicktheToityToid said...

Interesting point about"Free Markets":
Last Spring,Fox released a sweet animated movie called"Rio"about a parrot in Brazil
while some independent company released the long(un)awaited movie version of"Atlas Shrugged"on the same weekend.

Guess which movie made big bucks and which one stunk like a beer joint at closing time:
Well,it sure wasn't the latter!!
"Rio"made over 80 million opening weekend while"Atlas Shrugged"shoulda been titled"Atlas Dumped"!!!

Sorry but folks want to be entertained not be lectured to!!!

"Apparently Jesus don't like the Apache"-Ben Wade(Russell Crowe):"3:10 to Yuma".