Sunday, May 10, 2020

Slouching Toward the Next Schism

There are the makings of a potential schism at ARI. Since 1985, Carl Barney, whose made millions in the education industry, was ARI's largest donor. In 2019, Barney left ARI's board and devoted his resources to Craig Biddle's The Objective Standard periodical and to Barney's own Prometheus Foundation. Then, on May 1, 2020, Barney made the following announcement:

“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, Barney has to insist he is not competing with ARI; and perhaps his insistence is sincere. But this clearly lays the foundation for trouble in the future. What has happened in the world of orthodox Objectivism is that, with the retirement of Peikoff, there exists no authority figure to adjudicate the inevitable disputes that arise among the Objectivist faithful, particularly among ambitious types jostling for status and influence in the movement itself. Theoretically, these disputes should be adjudicated by "reason." But what goes by "reason" in Objectivism is largely imaginary; and many of the issues which divide people in real life are too complex to be resolved by some "objective" standard of rationality in any case.