Barbara Branden, RIP

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My initial contact with Barbara Branden was 52 years ago, when my wife and I subscribed to the taped lecture series on Objectivism that she and her then-husband, Nathaniel Branden, marketed through the Nathaniel Branden Institute. These were the early days of what has since come to be known as the modern libertarian movement, and the works of Ayn Rand  and the Brandens  were major contributors to the development of ideas supportive of peace, liberty, individualism, and private property. These were intellectually turbulent times, made more so by the Vietnam War, as well as many parallel “liberation” movements among blacks, feminists, gays, and other subdivisions of a culture tearing itself away from the collectivist mantra of e pluribus unum.

As close friends to Ms. Rand – and at the core of her tightly-knit “inner circle” – the Brandens were prolific generators of interest in Rand’s thinking. The three of them provided an environment within which individuals could either [a] refine the quality of their own thinking by processes of constant questioning, or [b] embrace Objectivism as a secular faith. The clarity in thinking of these three persons served as a catalyst for my concluding that none of us can ever see or understand the world in some “objective” manner; that we are able to interpret events and ideas only “subjectively,” through the lenses of our prior experiences.

Ayn Rand – with the help of Barbara and Nathaniel Branden – made two major contributions to the cause of peace and liberty: [1] to give a moral and intellectual shellacking to that most violent, inhumane, and anti-life doctrine of collectivism, and [2] rescue philosophy from its academic prisons, and return it to the minds of ordinary men and women to assess the conditions in which they choose to live.

Barbara Branden will doubtless best be remembered for her book The Passion of Ayn Rand.  For a philosophy grounded in reason and logic – attributes of left-brained thinking – Rand’s works have so much appeal to so many because of their support of such right-brained expressions as passion and the emotions. It is the sentiment that political systems ought neither to dehumanize nor destroy what it means to be human that the current generation of young minds may find most beneficial in Rand’s writings. Barbara Branden’s works may help focus such minds in that direction.

7:05 pm on December 12, 2013