Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Future of Objectivism 4

Preservation of Orthodoxy. Some Objectivists, following Leonard Peikoff's example, wish to preserve orthodoxy. They desire to prevent other individuals from introducing innovations into Objectivist doctrine. This fear of innovation does not merely stem from a mania for preserving Rand's doctrine in its immaculate, unpolluted form. There may be other motives in the business that intensify the (essentially non-rational) need for doctrinal purity. One important but underrated motive involves competition for status and resources. Most Objectivists would like to believe that many, if not all, schisms are motivated by genuine "philosophical" differences. This is hardly likely. The schism with Kelley, for instance, is often framed as developing over issues of doctrine. Kelley, it was argued, wavered from "true" doctrine. He was guilty, essentially, of heresy. He was not a "true" Objectivist, but an enemy of Objectivism.

Although the official reason for Kelley's dismissal was for speaking in front of a libertarian group, some have suggested that the real reason had more to do with Kelley sanctioning a positive review of Barabara Branden's Passion of Ayn Rand. However, there's probably more to it than that. The positive review of Branden's book, written by Robert Bindinotto, was published in 1986. The Peikoff-Kelley schism didn't take place until three years later. The official reasons for the schism are surprisingly flimsy. Late in 1988, Kelley gave a speech at the Laissez-Faire Supper Club in Manhattan. In 1982, Peikoff had been involved in two book signings with Laissez-Faire books. So why is it okay to have book signings with libertarians, and not speeches? Is there really a significant difference between a book signing and a speech?