Barbara Branden on The Passion of Ayn Rand

Arguably, no two people were closer to Ayn Rand than Barbara and Nathaniel Branden, whom Rand once named as her "intellectual heir." Indeed, when the Brandens married in 1953, the author served as bridesmaid (Rand had also urged the pair to wed).

A decade later, the Brandens would collaborate on the first biography of Rand, Who Is Ayn Rand? In 1986, Barbara published a second biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, which eventually was made into an award-winning Showtime movie starring Helen Mirren

Despite the ruinous and controversial romantic affair between Rand and Nathaniel Branden, and her eventual ouster from Rand's inner circle, Barbara still feels fondly for the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas ShruggedAs Branden, now 80, recalls in this interview, "I felt like she's answering questions that I've been looking for answers for, and nobody's been giving me any sort of answer until now."

Approximately seven minutes. Interview by Seth Goldin, camera by Alex Manning, and editing by Hawk Jensen. 

This is part of the series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand. Go here for more information, other videos, and related materials.

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  • Ayn Rand||

    Censor much?

  • affenkopf||

    Edited interviews suck, upload the whole thing.

  • Bruce Majors||

    You don't like the food and they give you such small portions?

  • WTF???||

    Dressed to Kill
    Tarek Fatah writes in the Ottawa Citizen:

    No one seemed to notice the significance of the attire that Maj. Nidal Hasan was wearing the morning of the killings. It was captured on a store surveillance video where he bought a coffee....

    Hasan was wearing the "shalwar-kameez," the traditional attire worn by Pashtuns on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border....I have lived a decade in the Arab world and not once did I see an Arab wearing the shalwar-kameez.

    There is one particular group of Arabs who did embrace the garb of the Pashtuns - those who went to Afghanistan to wage jihad alongside al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

    This guy was walking around a U.S. military installation dressed like Osama bin Laden and nobody said anything, yet the Army is being accused of intolerance and anti-Muslim bias. To repeat, according to Tarek Fatah, Hasan was not merely dressed in traditional Arab garb--he dressed in the traditional garb of al Qaeda terrorists. But the left worries about how he was affected by the combat stress of others at the base, rather than ask how Iraq and Afghanistan veterans must have felt coming across a guy dressed like this at the convenience store. He dressed like a terrorist, he went to a mosque frequented by terrorists, he emailed with terrorists, he sympathized with terrorists and he ultimately carried out an act of terror. Yet in the course of Obama's fine speech yesterday, the word terror was not mentioned once -- wouldn't want to offend anyone.

  • JB||

    The Left is going to have a lot more to worry about once Obama runs this country into the ground.

    They better git while the gitting is good.

  • Bruce Majors||

    And are you saying he was carrying "The Fountainhead"and plans to bomb a building?

  • ||

    I love watching this woman speak.

  • alan||

    I would hit it.

  • ||

    So Ms. Branden, what was it like being made into the ultimate Objectivist sandwich?

  • Bruce Majors||

    A romantic triangle and a three way are not the same thing.

    Are you a virgin?

  • ed||

    an award-winning Showtime movie starring Helen Mirren

    Really? That lurid piece of crap won an award? This diminishes the already subterranean standards of movie awards.

  • alan||

    Helen Mirren, I'd hit that too. See the beach pics from last Summer? Still has great abs.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Would you use a bat or a frying pan?

  • Vox Diabolus||

    Jebus, does anyone have anything interesting or intelligent to say?

  • ||

    Anything interesting was probably said in the first 3 Rand articles. Welcome to Groundhog Day at Reason.

  • alan||


  • alan||

    Are you hittable?

  • Bruce Majors||

    I am Alan, if you are cute enough and you brush your teeth.

    Are you?

  • ||

    Maybe this: before this interview, I don't think I ever understood why people stuck around Ayn Rand even as she made them miserable. Hearing Barbara Branden describe what it was like to have her present arguments to you, with her full attention... I kind of get it now. That would have been a rare and powerful experience. In the same position, I might very well have stuck around for that, even as she tore into other things I valued.

  • Vox Diabolus||

    Marc-I'm reading Ayn Rand and the World She Made right now, (for clarity-I'm a fan of Rand, but am anything but a disciple) and the author is clear that Rand was very charismatic in person. Even more startling, she apparently could be funny. That certainly doesn't fit with the usual view of the woman.
    She was, apparently, absolutely incapable of self-criticism or doubt. While that probably contributed to her success, it was also her downfall.

  • Human Bean||

    her downfall

    She fell? How so? Reason is celebrating a failure?

    Even more startling, she apparently could be funny

    Why is that "startling"? Preconceived notions on your part?

  • Bruce Majors||

    I think it is funny how many people who are clearly Ayn Rand's inferiors with respect to intellect, energy, passion, commitment, consistency, creativity, dedication, etc. think they can comprehend her and assay her failures and foibles.

    Most of them are people who even have sillier or sadder misadventures in their own lives than her cougar romance or tobacco addiction. But since they are, relatively speaking, non-entities, no one is going to write or talk about their peccadilloes when they are alive, much less when they are long dead.

  • ||

    I heard a recorded lecture by Mrs. Rothbard where she recounted some of the strangeness around that inner circle.

  • Bruce Majors||

    In 1997 or so I sent an animated Christmas card to some big bunch of libertarians, most of whom I knew, by hitting "reply all" on a piece of email someone had sent me. I think it was a South Park character doing something (were they around then?).

    Ms.Branden was on the recipient list (and I did not know here). Apparently the anime or WMV I sent blew up a few peoples' operating systems including hers. She posted that whoever I was I had committed a terrorist act on the libertarian movement.

    Sorry Barbara! Happy Holidays!

  • VideoGAMES||

    The music is from Braid!

  • ||

    The Soviets didn't value ability, but Ayn Rand did? You wouldn't know that from all the outstanding scientists, artists, athletes, cosmonauts and even chess players produced by the Soviet system. The Soviets just valued different sorts of ability than we Westerners do. In Rand's cartoon version of Soviet life, the authorities would punish anyone who promised to become, say, a better physicist than everyone else, when in reality the government sought out and encouraged such people to develop themselves (assuming they didn't cause politcal trouble), especially after Stalin died.

  • alan||

    Note that with every occupation you listed without the purpose of advancing the glory of the state they would have been stifled and not advanced by the Soviets. If your ambition was to open up a bakery in your neighborhood instead of planting a Soviet flag on the Olympic podium, you were shit out of luck before the idea even hit you.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Funny that you should post this.The NYTimes or the WaPost or some such just had an article or book review this week on Soviet mathematicians about how mathematics as a profession was a refuge from Marxist academics and Soviet politicians, who didn't and couldn't understand higher mathematics and so could not figure out how to warp it for political purposes at first, and then ended up needing mathematicians to help figure out how to aim missiles.

    The mathematical sciences were this a kind of Cayman Islands/wild west escape from socialism, that ended up with refugee/immigrant talent, an internal brain drain of people fleeing socialism.

    Of course, the Soviets were still known to purge math and physics departments from time to time,either because they were too Jewish or to politically rebellious.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Yeah, I'm sure the USSR was a great place to grow up.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Her description of that Rearden scene actually makes me want to read Atlas again. Say what you want about it but it does have some inspiring moments.

  • Bruce Majors||

    It's a great book. And I went to an elite university and read, both in and out of classes, Tolstoy and Homer and Shakespeare and Dostoevski and Henry James and Edith Wharton and Saul Bellow and Willa Cather and Martin Amis etc etc. And Plato and Aristotle and Husserl and Heidegger and Kant and Hume ad nauseum. People who think she isn't a solid thinker and a great writer are just dumb fucks saying what they think they are supposed to say. Common as litter.

  • abercrombie milano||

    It's a great book. And I went to an elite university and read, both in and out of classes, Tolstoy and Homer and Shakespeare and Dostoevski and Henry James and Edith Wharton and Saul Bellow and Willa Cather and Martin Amis etc etc. And Plato and Aristotle and Husserl and Heidegger and Kant and Hume ad nauseum. People who think she isn't a solid thinker and a great writer are just dumb fucks saying what they think they are supposed to say. Common as litter.

  • nike shox||

    is good


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