As I noted in Objectivism: Leonard Peikoff vs. the World, the Objectivist world is being shaken by the latest schisms and excommunications, regarding ARI founder and Rand heir Leonard Peikoff’s denunciation of former ARI board member John McCaskey. Diana Hsieh and her husband have weighed in with overwrought “final thoughts” in Closing Thoughts on ARI, Peikoff, and McCaskey (they closed comments and refuse to state their final decision about ARI and Peikoff’s treatment of McCaskey), as have others. Most interesting was Robert Tracinski’s Anthemgate, and Michael Stuart Kelley’s comments on that piece, Thoughts On Tracinski’s Anthemgate Article.
This latest scandal concerns Peikoff’s apparently unfair insistence on his right to determine what Objectivism is and his use of his influence to eject McCaskey. This is threatening to make ARI and Objectivism even more marginalized and to splinter and harm that movement. As Tracinski notes:
Early this month, John McCaskey resigned from the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute and from the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, which McCaskey founded to promote the training and hiring of Objectivists in academia. McCaskey resigned after his removal was demanded by Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s student and heir, who does not sit on the board but, through his control of Ayn Rand’s name and intellectual property rights, holds enormous clout over the Institute’s actions.
In other words, the existence of IP rights is helping to kill Objectivism. A bit ironic given Rand’s and Objectivists’ endorsement of IP rights and IP law.
One Objectivist even noticed this–a commentator on Objectivist Living notes:
Those who so readily dismiss libertarians who are questioning the soundness of the monopolies-by-law called “intellectual property” should think a few times about what deadening effects will continue to result from Rand’s copyrights remaining in the Peikoff family. For most of the rest of this century, by the way.
Yes, decrying the abuses Peikoff makes with them is a consequentialist argument. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t have that position to abuse Rand’s legacy if copyrights were even reined back to less outrageous proportions, let alone questioned in full.