Category Archives: Periodicals

The Essential Women of Liberty

For people looking for a fine introduction to the thought of a select group of women who have contributed to the cause of liberty, let me recommend The Essential Women of Liberty, coedited by Donald Boudreaux and Aeon J. Skoble, published by the Fraser Institute, with a foreword by Virginia Postrel. My dear friend Aeon informs me that the book is also available in hardcover and softcover editions.

The volume includes essays on Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Martineau, Rose Director Friedman, Mary Paley Marshall, Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand (a nice essay by Carrie-Ann Biondi), Anna Schwartz, Jane Jacobs, Elinor Ostrom, and Deirdre McCloskey.

I am truly delighted by the remarkably diverse selection of thinkers featured in this anthology. Indeed, any volume that runs the gamut from Wollstonecraft and Rand to Jacobs and Ostrom is worth the price of admission.

Deirdre McCloskey is the only woman featured in this collection whom I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know personally, having worked closely with her as a contributor to The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, which I coedited with Roger Bissell and Ed Younkins. (Indeed, a Facebook symposium dedicated to that anthology generated a colloquy on her delightful contribution, which appeared in the May 2020 issue of Poroi.)

The book is available as a PDF (for free) and in a Kindle edition (for a mere 99 cents!). Check out a nice YouTube video highlighting the collection …

Memories of Dad

As ballroom dancers, Mom and Dad met on the dance floor. Nobody could cut a rug doing a swift Peabody or a Lindy-Hop better! Dad always said if he had to die, he wanted to go out dancing.

And that is exactly what he was doing when he died on this date, fifty years ago.

On March 4, 1972, my father, Salvatore Charles Sciabarra (“Sal” to his family and friends), died of a massive coronary at the age of 55. He would have turned 56 on June 11, 1972. At the time, I was 12 years old, suffering from serious life-threatening medical problems, and the news of his passing shattered me. It was my first experience with death as a fact of life. It was so very hard. But the cherished memories I have of him are still very much alive.

Mom was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1919; Dad was born in Manhattan in 1916. As young children, they both moved to Brooklyn, New York and met as teenagers because of their mutual love of dancing. In 1935, she was 16 and he was 19. They had attended a wedding together and Mom missed curfew and didn’t want to go home to the wrath of her father, my Papouli, the first pastor of the Three Hierarchs Church. They decided to elope. Times were very different back then; intermarriage between faiths and ethnicities was frowned upon. Mom was an American-born Greek Orthodox woman whose parents had emigrated from Olympia, Greece. Dad was an American-born Roman Catholic man whose parents had emigrated from Porto Empedocle, not far from Sciacca (hence the last name), in the province of Agrigento, Sicily. Or as I put it, tongue-in-cheek: My maternal grandparents came from the home of the gods and goddesses and my paternal grandparents came from the home of the godfathers; clearly, this Brooklyn-born boy came from tough stock!

My parents were not gods, goddesses, or ‘godparents’. But they were very human renegades for their time. And, in many ways, they raised three renegade children, each of whom danced to their own music. My brother Carl—exposed to my father’s mandolin, guitar, and drum-playing, would go on to become a virtuoso jazz guitarist. My sister Elizabeth—exposed to my mother’s love of education (Mom was the first in her family to graduate from high school, James Madison High School in Brooklyn)—would go on to become a lifelong educator. And both my parents encouraged me to follow my own dreams; I would not have become what I am today without them.

Mom and Dad separated when I was 5 years old. Though my sister and I lived with my Mom, my Dad remained a very strong presence in my life. In fact, in the wake of that separation, his presence in my life only grew. There were difficult times for sure, but these were far outweighed by fun times. Trips to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, its hills like huge mountains to me, its zoo full of wonder, nourished my love of nature. Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, car rides, music, and movies delighted me.

One of those movies was “The Love Bug,” whose action centered around Herbie, a Volkswagen Beetle. Dad had proposed taking my sister and me to see the film, which was playing at the Cinema Theatre on East Kings Highway (previously known as the Jewel Theatre). Mom was flustered by both the title and the theater. “You’re taking them to see a film called ‘The Love Bug’ at the Cinema!”—knowing all too well that the theater was an infamous headquarters for first-run racy porn flicks. Dad explained that it was a Disney film.

Like Mom, who worked in the garment industry for most of her life, Dad too was a factory worker. Initially, he was an eye-setter in a doll factory. We still have some of those dolls, with their life-like eyes, which my Dad brought home for my sister Elizabeth. Eventually, he would become a cargo worker for Trans World Airlines at JFK International Airport. I still have plenty of TWA memorabilia, including TWA soaps and TWA Flying Magic Boards, given to kids of all ages on flights (see the collage below). Today, you’re lucky if you can get complementary snacks! I hadn’t flown on a plane in my Dad’s lifetime, but I got to see planes up close at the airport as a kid. It fueled my awe of the heavens and sparked my lifelong fascination with the human journey into air and space.

Despite losing my Dad in 1972, I continued to be nourished by a very loving and supportive family throughout my entire life. And it was to these family members that I dedicated each of my books. I told Mom that I would dedicate my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, to her. Alas, she died in April 1995, before that book was published. I told my Uncle Sam—my Dad’s first cousin, who married my mother’s sister (my Aunt Georgia) and who was like a second father to me—that I would dedicate my second book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, to him. But he died in 1994. It got so that I was very concerned about who would have been “sentenced” to death-by-dedication, for my third book, Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. So I opted for strength in numbers, a group dedication—to my brother, sister, sister-in-law, friend Matthew, and dog Blondie, and all, except for Blondie, are still kicking till this day!

I never had a chance to honor my father. I was his “Chrissy Bear”; he was my Daddy. This post acknowledges his joyous impact on my life.

That’s me with Mom and Dad in September 1969, along with that TWA memorabilia …

Paul Cantor, RIP

I was shocked to learn today (H/T to FB friend Shal Marriott) of the death (on February 26, 2022) of Paul Cantor, the American literary critic who was the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia. Paul was 76.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945, he would go on to write extensively on a wide range of topics, from Shakespeare and English Romanticism to pop culture. I was introduced to his work through our mutual friend Stephen Cox, with whom he edited a fine 2010 anthology, Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture.

I contacted Paul for the first time in December 2021 to invite him to submit a review essay to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, an invitation which he enthusiastically accepted. I found him to be an amicable and hilarious guy. He admitted to being a “frustrated stand-up comedian,” who was looking into “booking a lounge in Vegas.” His sense of humor was clearly fueled by his Brooklyn roots. As a native of the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, he would have had plenty of material to work with. He attended P.S. 208, Meyer Levin Junior High School, and Samuel J. Tilden High School, where he became co-captain of the Math Team before going on to earn an A.B. and Ph.D. at Harvard University in English literature.

He took long subway rides to see Ayn Rand lecture at Hunter College in the 1950s. He said that it “was very exciting to see Rand speak. She had a real flare for the dramatic.” He also attended the NYC seminars of Ludwig von Mises.

In his work on pop culture, Paul had examined TV series as varied as “Gilligan’s Island” and “The X-Files.” He told me that he was already working on essays dealing with “Shark Tank”, “Pawn Stars”, and “The Profit”. I would have been honored to have had his work appear in JARS.

My very deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Paul Cantor (1945-2022)

C4SS: MES on “Anarchism & Egoism”

This announcement comes from my friend Cory Massimino with regard to an upcoming Mutual Exchange Symposium sponsored by the Center for a Stateless Society on the topic of “Anarchism & Egoism“:

I’m very excited about this month’s Mutual Exchange Symposium. We’ll have contributions from some great folks, including Jason Byas, Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Saul Newman, Rai Ling, and others.

“Many consider anarchism and egoism polar opposites. Anarchists oppose all forms of domination, from statism to capitalism to patriarchy, because anarchism is about dignity and autonomy for all. Egoism, derived from the French égoïsme meaning ‘to think of oneself,’ is about the affirmation and assertion of the self. How can the anarchist commitment to universalism be reconciled with the egoist commitment to oneself? Isn’t ‘thinking of everyone’ at odds with ‘thinking of oneself’? This Mutual Exchange Symposium is a collective effort aimed at exploring these and related tensions.

Anarchism and egoism are, ironically, kindred spirits. Both share roots in 19th century radical philosophic and political thought—though the ideas and practices associated with each surely predate their first explicit articulations. Both have been considered, at best, taboo and, at worst, dangerous. Both have been misunderstood, but also mischaracterized. Both ultimately found refuge during the 20th and 21st centuries within broader libertarian undercurrents, where their adherents were fractured and ideas were sharpened. Most importantly, both consider themselves on the side of life and freedom. The essays compiled here explore the complex relationship between these two traditions. ”

My own contribution to this symposium—“A Dialectical Rand for an Egoist Anarchism”—offers a re-reading of the work of Ayn Rand’s ethics as one aspect of a larger project aimed at freedom and flourishing. I will post a link to the piece when it becomes available later this month.

C4SS: “Lockdowns, Libertarians, and Liberation” (Reboot)

An edited version of the twenty-first installment in my Coronavirus series (“Lockdowns, Libertarians, and Liberation“), which originally appeared on Notablog on 5 May 2020, has been published today by the Center for a Stateless Society (see here). Another installment in that series will be republished by C4SS in about a week. A H/T to my friend Eric Fleischmann for proposing these reboots!

No, this doesn’t constitute the 37th installment in my series; that will be posted on the anniversary of the first entry in the series (14 March 2020)—a planned index to all 37 installments in the series, and one that is in keeping with my friend Thomas L. Knapp‘s “Prime Number Obsession” (that “all sets should consist of a prime number of items”). Stay tuned …

Remembering Hiromi Shinya

Back in December 2021, I shared my very personal thoughts on Hiromi Shinya, a trailblazing doctor who saved my life—and the lives of countless numbers of people through his remarkable innovations in endoscopic medicine. Today, his daughter, Erica Shinya Kin, posted an obituary through on the New York Times. It is a wonderful tribute to this great pioneer. Check it out here.

Hiromi Shinya, 1935-2021

Scholarly Publishing Collective Launches – JARS Free Till March 31st!

A Major Announcement Today:

The Scholarly Publishing Collective (the Collective) is pleased to announce that its online content platform is now live, with content from over 130 journals published by Michigan State University Press, Penn State University Press, SBL Press, and the University of Illinois Press.

Through the Collective, managed by Duke University Press, publishers have access to resources that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive, such as a best-in-class web platform, proven customer relations and library relations teams, and a network of global sales agents with insight into university press content. Journals are hosted on the Silverchair hosting platform, which is home to Duke University Press’s publications as well as publications from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Wolters Kluwer, and many other distinguished publishers.

Through the Collective’s partnership with Silverchair, publishers benefit from fully responsive journal websites that adapt to any display size and have a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface. Features of the platform include support for advance-publication articles; the ability for non-subscribers to purchase access to full issues and articles; the ability to search and filter results across journal, publisher, or Collective content; robust usage statistics; and support for supplemental data files, including media.

“Being part of the Scholarly Collective will take Penn State University Press’s commitment to journals publishing to a new level. We’re excited about this exciting growth opportunity for our society partners, our library friends, our contributors, and the editors of our journals,” said Patrick Alexander, Director of Penn State University Press.

The Collective platform currently hosts the journals content of four publishers migrating from the JSTOR Journal Hosting Program, which is ending after 2021. All content is temporarily free to access until March 31, 2022.

“Duke University Press has developed infrastructure for our own publishing program that we can share with our fellow UP journal publishers and society publishers to support them at a time when sustaining their journals program is critical to sustaining their overall mission. Through the Collective, the partners expand their ability to disseminate, promote, and increase the impact of scholarship. More than fifteen years of investment and experience and skill-building have gone into being able to do this, and we want to leverage our experience for our Collective partners,” said Allison Belan, Director for Strategic Innovation and Services at Duke University Press.

What does this mean for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies? Simple! Go here and check out our contents (going back to 2007; all contents going back to 1999 are still available on JSTOR)—free till March 31, 2022. (And speaking for myself and my coauthor, Pavel Solovyev, check out “The Rand Transcript Revealed” in all its full-color glory on the site!)

JARS December 2021 Now on Project Muse

The December 2021 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies has now made its debut on Project Muse, after being made available on JSTOR. The hard copy will be in the hands of subscribers soon! Don’t miss this important issue, which includes my own essay, co-authored with Pavel Solovyev: “The Rand Transcript Revealed“!

The Rand Transcript Revealed (Part III)

This is the conclusion of a three-part preview to a newly published article coauthored by Pavel Solovyev and me: “The Rand Transcript Revealed” (The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, December 2021, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 141-229). Part One informed readers of the publication of this important article, while Part Two situated it in the growing scholarly literature on Rand’s Russian roots.

In today’s final installment, I’d like to turn attention to what this newly published project offers. In this article, Pavel and I analyze and interpret facsimiles of important original documents—published for the first time—that are deeply relevant to the education of the young Ayn Rand at the University of Petrograd. We contribute what we consider to be a definitive reading of source material that provides a significant documentation of Rand’s courses, teachers, and textbooks—and what she might have learned from them. Other original source materials are revealed to advance further investigations of this key period in Rand’s life. We also include discussion of recent commentary on Rand’s education by other writers (such as Gary H. Merrill, in his book, False Wisdom: The Principles and Practices of Pseudo-Philosophy, which is reviewed in the same December 2021 issue by Roderick Tracy Long).

I was first introduced to Pavel in October 2020, through my friend Marsha Enright, after he posted many of these images to the public Ayn Rand Facebook page. What I found there astounded me—only because I possessed poorer black-and-white photocopies of many of these same images, and here they were, in pristine color, with brief descriptions by Pavel. Contacting him, learning from him, working with him has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. He has become not only a colleague and coauthor, but a friend.

Pavel earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. His “hobby” over the last 10+ years has been research in history, genealogy, and Russian and foreign archives. Some “hobby”! I was so deeply impressed by Pavel’s meticulous research, which, over our many months of working together, produced an overwhelming amount of information—the raw material—for use in this article.

Every time we came upon a puzzling detail, somehow, someway, Pavel would discover a startlingly new piece of information that opened promising paths as our research project unfolded. Based on his painstakingly accurate translation of key sources and his remarkable ability to decipher signatures on Rand’s university records—and then to track down matching signatures to authenticate them (images of which are also provided in the article)—we were able to diligently analyze, contextualize, and interpret this material. His superb detective work is an invaluable contribution to our understanding—such that no future scholarship on Rand’s university years will move forth without reference to it. Indeed, the publication of this important project is simultaneously an invitation to other scholars to critically examine and evaluate, so as to widen the community for interpretive analysis and discussion of this significant period in Rand’s formative intellectual development.

Rand certainly bore the scars of her Russian past but she also absorbed gems of wisdom bestowed on her by professors of significance. It’s all in the article—including information with regard to whether or not Rand studied with Kareev or Karsavin or even Lossky—a mystery that we devote much space to. We offer short biographies of every professor whose name appears on Rand’s matricula. Our work confirms that the overwhelming majority of those who were signatories to the matricula were among some of the finest teachers that Petrograd University had to offer.

But the story that unfolds is also a portrait of a very precarious time for intellectuals in the years after the Bolshevik Revolution. As we write:

An omnipresent thread that runs in the tapestry of academic life during the period of Alissa Rosenbaum’s university education was the politicization of scholarship, in which some professors targeted their colleagues as “counterrevolutionaries,” leading to their dismissal from teaching posts or exile abroad, only to be attacked later by university and state administrators who rewarded their formerly “loyal” informants with internment in prisons and concentration camps or execution by firing squad. As we will see, the lives of many of Rand’s professors at Petrograd University—regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations—were affected profoundly by this tragedy of mounting proportions, which devastated an entire intellectual generation.

Back in 1997, in reply to the many critics of my historical work on Ayn Rand, I freely admitted that on the basis of limited evidence, I had “engaged in an empirical investigation with a dose of judicious speculation.” As that evidence has unfolded over the years, we have gotten closer and closer to understanding more and more of what Rand studied and with whom she studied. In an appendix to the article, we present a table in which readers can see how our knowledge of Rand’s education has evolved over these last 2+ decades of research.

And that is as it should be. I’ve always viewed this research project as open-ended. Speaking for myself, I got a lot right, and some wrong—that’s what a learning experience is all about. In the end, however, I firmly believe that the data, though still incomplete, fully supports my argument that Rand was exposed to something of great value from her teachers—a profoundly dialectical way of looking at the world—and that this mode of inquiry would have an enormous impact on her life’s work.

For those who have been offended by the mere suggestion that Rand could have learned anything of value from her Russian teachers, all I could say in reply is to quote Hegel: “No one . . . can escape the substance of his time any more than he can jump out of his skin.” Rand proclaimed that she was a “radical” thinker, a person who sought to go to the root of so many important issues. But not even the most radical among us exists—from some Archimedean standpoint—outside the world we seek to change. Even as we seek to shape the world, we are shaped by it. Part of what it means to be dialectical is to accept what is as the basis for all that could be.

We invite you to check out our project. Yep, and here’s the sales pitch: It’s currently on JSTOR. I will announce its appearance on Project Muse shortly. And it will be in the hands of JARS subscribers soon—though the full color images can only be found on e-platforms. To subscribe to the journal, see here.

One final teaser … taken from a page of the article: An image of the title page of Alissa Rosenbaum’s Second Matricul …

Postscript: And check out the public Facebook discussion that followed. In one thread, one commentator stated that in many ways, Rand was like an “inverted Bolshevik”—with her emphasis on the opposition between productivity and parasitism. I responded:

A very interesting observation (and in many respects, my reconstruction of her thought in Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical shows the very inversion you allude to).

I should point out of course that some of the worst “parasites” in her novels, especially The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are “capitalists” of the crony kind, part of “the aristocracy of pull” peddlers, using government to gain privileges and wealth. But her antipathy toward business extended as well to the stifling atmosphere of corporate conformity—against which Howard Roark (her protagonist in The Fountainhead) must struggle. In fact, her earliest published writing (while she was still in the Soviet Union) on Hollywood films and film stars contain some strong indictments of studio owners. A recent two-part article by Shoshana Milgram quotes Rand as follows:

“But directors have an enemy. An omnipotent and indomitable enemy. An enemy whom it is difficult to fight — the firm’s owner. At any moment in his work, any director may be interrupted by the appearance of a decisive businessman, who states categorically: ‘This must be changed. This must be cut. This character must be omitted entirely. Cut out the ending.’ And the studio’s sovereign dares not argue.” The owners and presidents of film studios force their views and demands on the directors. They greedily pursue the public’s tastes. Like obedient slaves, they strive to satisfy every desire of the omnipotent public. They want to release only that which is popular. They are frightened by the new and unusual.”

Milgram’s article is in two parts:

‘Capitalism’: When and How Ayn Rand Embraced the Term (Pt. 1)

‘Capitalism’: When and How Ayn Rand Embraced the Term (Pt. 2)

In a follow-up reply, that pertains to the differences between the views of Karl Marx and Ayn Rand on productive work, I said:

There’s a section in Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical that speaks to the issue … [of] Rand exhibiting traits of the ‘inverted Bolshevik’. I’ll quote a long passage from the book (pp. 271-73):

Interestingly, Rand enunciated a principle that Marx would have accepted in starkly different terms. For Marx, capitalist “exploitation” is a direct outgrowth of the separation of the product from the producer. In the production process, the laborer endows the product with its value and receives in return only enough for his or her own subsistence. The extraction of surplus value makes possible capitalist accumulation. But it is symptomatic of a condition in which the capitalist consumes value without producing it. In this regard, Marx views the capitalist qua capitalist as a parasite on the production process.

Paradoxically, Rand’s criticism of the Marxian doctrine of exploitation illustrates her own endorsement of a form of the labor theory of value. Rand presents a caricature of the classical labor theory, when she argues that in Marx’s view, “the material tools of production” (that is, “machines”), determine thinking, and that it is “muscular labor” which “is the source of wealth” (New Intellectual, 33). As we have seen, Marx’s conception of human labor was far richer than Rand presumed. Nevertheless, Rand criticized Marx for obscuring the intellectual praxis at the foundation of production. For Rand, an innovation, an idea, is the creative force behind the production of material values. The implementation of creative ideas are a permanent benefit to the day laborer, much more valuable than the hourly expense of merely physical work that extends no further than the range of the immediate productive process.

Rand presented a view of the capitalist as creator, inventor, and entrepreneur. It is the creator who stands at the top of the intellectual pyramid of ability, contributing “the most to all those below him,” but receiving far less in material payment than his or her innovations make possible. In Rand’s view, even though day laborers contribute their energy to the production process, they would starve outside the wider social context because they depend for their employment on the innovations introduced by those above them. Even the machines that laborers use are “the frozen form of a living intelligence,” expanding the potential of the laborers’ lives by raising their productivity (Atlas Shrugged, 1064–65).

Contrary to Rand’s assumptions, Marx did not endorse a vulgar version of the labor theory of value. Marx postulates all sorts of complex labortime derivatives, such that the labor-time expended by a skilled worker, even by a capitalist in his capacity as a skilled innovator, is a multiple of simple labor-time. And for Marx, it is obvious that the material forces, the “machines” as Rand puts it, do not strictly determine consciousness. In Marx’s view, “Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules, etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified” (Grundrisse, 706).

Rand grossly distorted the mature Marxian perspective. But in contrast to Marx, she offered a more sophisticated view of the creative process. As I have suggested in previous chapters, Rand saw creativity as a constellation of rational and emotional, conscious and subconscious, articulated and tacit elements that cannot be quantified as complex multiples of simple labor-time. Creativity is the lifeblood of human action. It is the very fuel of the capitalist system. It is an expression of the individual’s integrated nature as a rational being, and it is the source of values for human consumption and enjoyment. Indeed, as Barry (1983, 109) remarks, there are times in which Rand seems so awestruck by the creative qualities of the innovator and the entrepreneur that she occasionally “slips into a crude intentionalist explanation of the free economy; as if it were the virtues of capitalists that produced the system.” This, however, is not Rand’s view, but it does underscore Rand’s conviction that capitalism as a social system rewards such virtues, raising people to a higher standard of living, and challenging them to greater knowledge and greater achievement. Such a system enriches the efficacious, self-esteeming individual. It promotes the mastery of particular skills, even as it beckons the laborer to expand his or her capacities and earn the values that sustain life.

The Rand Transcript Revealed (Part II)

Yesterday, in “The Rand Transcript Revealed (Part I)“, I discussed the publication of my new Journal of Ayn Rand Studies article, coauthored with Pavel Solovyev, which features 28 archival images in color (and four tables), documenting—as never before—the details of Ayn Rand’s Soviet education at the University of Petrograd.

Today is the second of three posts previewing our newly published article.

My 1995 book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, was the first scholarly work to argue that Rand had a deep intellectual debt to the Russian context within which she came to intellectual maturity. This debt didn’t relate merely to some substantive similarities with ideas current during the Russian Silver Age of Rand’s youth. It was a distinctly methodological debt, which she owed to the dialectical modes of analysis that were endemic to virtually every school and tradition she would have encountered during that period. As my own work on Rand’s education at the University of Petrograd documented, these dialectical motifs were present in Rand’s coursework, textbooks, and in the lectures given by the teachers with whom she most likely studied.

To reiterate for the umpteenth time: Dialectics is the art of context-keeping. It demands that the theorist never disconnect a single event, issue, or problem from its relationships to other events, issues or problems, all existing within a larger context, examined across time.

My seemingly innocuous argument that Rand learned something from her teachers was initially met with a firestorm of criticism—from Rand-haters who viewed her as outside the Western canon of legitimate thinkers and from Rand-acolytes who viewed her as having sprung ahistorically from the head of Zeus as a modern-day goddess of wisdom.

Ironically, those acolytes, who accept Rand’s own acknowledged debt to Aristotle and even the early influence of Nietzsche, drop historical context, since even Hegel, Marx, Engels, and Lenin viewed Aristotle as the “fountainhead” (Hegel’s term) of dialectical inquiry. Moreover, Nietzsche’s influence on the Russian Silver Age was one of its defining cultural characteristics.

In the years that followed the publication of Russian Radical, a growing number of writers have been exploring Rand’s Russian roots. I’ve discussed these in previous articles, such as my “Reply to the Critics of Russian Radical 2.0: The Dialectical Rand” and in my essay, “Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism” in The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom.

Other discussions of Russian influences on Rand have appeared in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, including essays by Peter Saint-Andre and Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal. More encouraging is the appearance of recent Russian-language books by Ludmila L. Nikiforova and Mikhail B. Kizilov and Anastasiya Grigorovskaya, each exploring Rand as a Russian émigré writer. And a new book by Aaron Weinacht, Nikolai Chernyshevskii and Ayn Rand: Russian Nihilism Travels to America, is a “profoundly significant” contribution to Rand studies—as I state in a blurb that I provided for the book. (Weinacht previously published in the July 2017 issue of JARS.)

Unfortunately, Weinacht’s superb book was moving toward publication as our own article was already in page proofs, so we were unable to discuss his thoughts on Rand’s education. It’s worth noting that Weinacht worked in the Ayn Rand Archives and his book benefits from access to its collections. Among those collections are documents that my coauthor Pavel Solovyev was able to secure independently from the Saint Petersburg Archives. Pavel’s superlative detective work will be the subject of my concluding post tomorrow.

Of all the professors that Ayn Rand may have studied with, only one—Nikolay Onufriyevich Lossky—was named by her in the Branden Biographical Interviews (specifically in Interview 6, conducted on 3 January 1961). I devote a full chapter to Lossky’s life and thought in Russian Radical. Weinacht writes:

As Sciabarra has noted, it is impossible to prove conclusively that Losskii was one of Rand’s teachers, as she claimed, but it seems likely that she took at least some instruction from him, albeit in an unofficial capacity. Losskii was banned from teaching at his St. Petersburg State University post in 1921, the same year Rand entered the university, and was exiled in the fall of 1922, along with Nicholas Berdiaev, Semen Frank, and Sergei Bulgakov of the Vekhi group (among others). I am inclined to agree with Sciabarra’s judgment that Rand had no compelling reason to lie about her connection with Losskii, particularly given her usual reticence to mention any thinkers other than herself. Additionally, Losskii’s mother-in-law Mariia Stoiunina ran a girl’s school, that was located at #20 Kabinetskaia Street in St. Petersburg. Rand lived in two main locations in St. Petersburg, one of which was approximately two-thirds of a mile southwest of the school, and the other less than half-mile northwest of the school. Between Rand’s own mention of Losskii and the fact that she lived in two locations that were within close walking distance of a school with which Losskii was personally connected, the suggestion that Rand took some unofficial instruction from him does not seem implausible. (p. 17)

On the Stoiunin gymnasium, I should note that there is firm evidence that Rand attended the school—something I first proposed in Russian Radical and documented in my follow-up essays on her education. This was subsequently substantiated in 2010 by Anne C. Heller in Ayn Rand and the World She Made (pp. 17-20, 26), and Shoshana Milgram in Essays on Ayn Rand’s “We the Living” (second edition, 2012, pp. 108-10, n. 23).

Weinacht hypothesizes that also among Rand’s teachers was

the well-known Russian historian N. I. Kareev* [who] was on the university faculty in St. Petersburg when Rand was a student there. … Rand’s college transcript lists a total of sixteen history courses she took at the university, and also contains the signatures of the courses’ instructors. The signatures on twelve of Rand’s history courses are illegible, and circumstantial evidence would suggest a high likelihood that Kareev was the professor of at least a few of these courses, and probably at least one non-history course, as well. (p. 17)

Weinacht expresses his “thanks to Professor Cynthia Ruder, of the University of Kentucky, for assistance in deciphering the signatures on Rand’s transcript. Sciabarra has made similar conjectures as to Kareev’s teaching” (p. 29, n. 90).

Tomorrow, in the conclusion of this miniseries, I will discuss how my colleague and coauthor, Pavel Solovyev, not only deciphered the signatures, but provided us with the most conclusive evidence yet of those with whom Rand studied—and what they taught.

For now, I’ll leave you with another archival image from our article … a photo of the young Alissa Rosenbaum taken from her second matricul (“matricul” is the name of a document certifying the admission of a student to the university, and also serving as the examination book).

* The name Kareev shows up in Rand’s fiction (see below). There was also a professor named Lev Platonovich Karsavin in the History department of Petrograd University. Does his name or the name of Kareev show up on the transcript? Readers will find out, but I’ll have more to say in the concluding part of my miniseries preview to the JARS article tomorrow. From Russian Radical (p 414 n37):

Karsavin is a White Army leader who is captured by Andrei Taganov, the idealistic communist soldier. Captain Karsavin is forced to commit suicide. It is possible that Rand modeled the captain after his namesake at the university, who was eventually exiled by the Bolsheviks for his counterrevolutionary ideals. The “Captain Karsavin” episode appears in We the Living, 101–3. Another of Rand’s early Russian characters, from the screenplay Red Pawn, is named “Kareyev.” Kareyev is the commandant of Strastnoy Island. Rand (1931–32), “Red Pawn,” in Early Ayn Rand, 111. Likewise, Rand may have taken the name “Kareyev” from Petrograd history professor, Kareev.

Postscript: And check out the public Facebook discussion that followed.