A Note on My Translation Work

The other day I received a comment on my page Leonard Peikoff Takes Legal Action, which I threw away, since I am not interested in flame wars and do not wish to spend my remaining few decades on this earth[1] on senseless quarrels that do not lead anywhere, anyway. But the commenter suggested that, instead of continuing translating Ayn Rand’s works into Swedish without Leonard Peikoff’s permission, I should have asked for this permission, and then I would probably have been paid for my work. Obviously, this person did not take the trouble to read what I have written about the background of this conflict.

The fact of this matter is that I did have Peikoff’s permission to make those translations from 1987 and onwards; he revoked it in 1996 because I had the temerity to demand of him that he explain to me why he had declared his former associates George Reisman and Edith Packer “immoral”. He flatly refused to give me this explanation and chose instead to punish me for even asking by revoking this permission.

This translation project was a joint venture between me and Henrik Unné (we were friends and comrades-in-arms in those years). Henrik financed the venture, while I made the translations; I also performed all the manual work involved: copying, stapling, stamping and taking the result to the post office. (This was before the age of the Internet; today I would have published my translations as blog posts.)

There was never any question about payment for this work. Both I and Henrik did this for idealistic, though thoroughly selfish, reasons. I like translating, and I certainly thought it was a good deed to make Ayn Rand’s works available in Swedish.

So how can anyone think that I would be paid for my work now, if I just performed an act of abject cowardice, licked Leonard Peikoff’s boots and decided to take part in the backstabbing of Reisman and Packer?

The commenter also pointed out that my translations are a copyright infringement. I cannot dispute that. But that Peikoff has legality on his side does not mean that he also has morality on his side. Backstabbing Reisman and Packer and then punishing those who question it is an act of profound immorality.

Had I been a multi-millionaire, I would have fought this in court, and the world would know what this conflict is all about. But I am not even a common-and-garden millionaire; I have enough money to live on, but not more. I cannot afford a court case that might reduce me to begging.

I have to say a word about the sheer hypocrisy of Dr. Peikoff’s actions. In the letter I received from his attorneys it says:

The Estate and the Ayn Rand Institute have built on Ms. Rand’s intellectual property by investing a great deal of money and years of effort in protecting her literary legacy, including careful management of the publication of her works. This includes strict oversight of any translations of her works, which are themselves derivative works.

This clearly implies that my permission was revoked, not because of my refusal to lick Leonard Peikoff’s boots and take part in his backstabbing of the Reismans, but because of the poor quality of my translations.

So has Leonard Peikoff or any of his associates made an investigation into the quality of my translations? Has he asked any Swedish speaking person about it? Has he received reports from Swedish Objectivists telling him my translations are lousy?[2] Certainly not. This is just a smoke screen.

No flame war in the comments, please. If you think Objectivism is all about licking the right boots and stabbing the wrong people in the back, just disregard this post.

Update June 14, 2017: See also Storm in A Glass of Water.

[1] I am 72 years old, and although I am in fairly good health, I do not realistically expect to become a centenarian.

[2] I, myself, have never received any such complaints. On the contrary, I have received much praise for them. Some years ago, one person wrote in a discussion forum that my translations were the only ones in Swedish that were worth reading.