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New Blog on Activism for Objectivism

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By Diana from NoodleFood,cross-posted by MetaBlog

An up-and-coming Objectivist intellectual from my OBloggers list recently created a blog specifically to discuss methods for effectively advocating Objectivism. It's password protected, so that discussions are private. I can give out the password, but I will do so only for Objectivists I know and trust. You must promise not to distribute the password except on those same terms. (As usual, friends and admirers of Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, David Kelley, Chris Sciabarra, and the like need not apply.)

The blog is Intellectual Activism. E-mail me for the password, if you're interested and if you think you qualify.228997693

http://ObjectivismOnline.com/archives/003254.html

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Although I am not a blogger, I was curious about this because I am interested in positive cultural change and I run a local club with this interest.

I do not understand the privacy concern even after reading the purpose statement for this at http://intellectualactivism.blogsavy.com/2...pose-statement/

... since there are now a number of web sites and forums dedicated to fighting Objectivism, I don’t want the other team to get a look at our playbook.

Perhaps this was merely an unfortunate choice of words, but the idea of a private “playbook" suggests that there is some manipulative strategy to promote Objectivism. For the promotion of a philosophy based on reality and reason in a country where we have the freedom of expression, I think the idea of private “playbook” efforts is untoward.

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Perhaps this was merely an unfortunate choice of words, but the idea of a private “playbook" suggests that there is some manipulative strategy to promote Objectivism. For the promotion of a philosophy based on reality and reason in a country where we have the freedom of expression, I think the idea of private “playbook” efforts is untoward.

Todd, I don't think it suggest manipulation at all. One does not give advantage to ones enemies simply in the name of "freedom of expression". I think in this context that sort of reference is a floating abstraction. Freedom of expression does not mean an obligation to express.

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Todd, I don't think it suggest manipulation at all. One does not give advantage to ones enemies simply in the name of "freedom of expression". I think in this context that sort of reference is a floating abstraction. Freedom of expression does not mean an obligation to express.

Hi Kendall,

Businesses and people usually have a right to keep secrets, of course. They do it all the time, even with the freedom of expression, but usually only bother to do so for a reason. I simply meant that in a country without freedom of expression, one may need to resort to secretive methods and strategies of communication to promote Objectivism. In a free country, one may do so, of course, but why?

The part I don't understand -- in the context of promoting Objectivism in a country where we do have the freedom of expression -- is what is the particular need for this secrecy? What secret strategic "advantage" is being protected? Here we are, trying to promote interest in reality and reason, and we need to resort to secret strategies? What "advantage" could we have that could be stolen from us or hindered by those who are opposed to such things -- at least so long as we have the freedom of expression?

I guess you could tell me why, but then you would have to kill me.

Edited by Old Toad

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Old Toad,

Maybe you aren't familiar with blogs like this. They are dedicated to scouring the internet for comments made by Objectivists, mocking anything related to Ayn Rand. (I'm sure that's who is meant by "the other team," not potential 'converts.') I don't want any advice I trade with other Objectivists to be fodder for those types of people. Also, a lot of Objectivists, students for example, are concerned about anonymity. The privacy policy would allow them to post as they want without having to worry about who might be googling them. So I think the privacy policy is a good idea.

Edited by Atlas51184

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Hello Atlas51184,

At this moment, the blog you cited is attempting to mock Harry Binswanger for an article he published on "anti-concepts," alleged financial troubles at Founders College, and Ayn Rand for alleged equivocations. By this reasoning, Binswanger should not publish articles, Founders College should never have been attempted, Ayn Rand should never have written her novels, and none of us should participate on ObjectivismOnline.Net.

How are the advice and discussion regarding blogging from an Objectivist perspective any different than the advice and discussion here regarding any other topic from an Objectivist perspective? What is the nature of this advice that it should be private?

Also, anyone looking to post while maintaining some anonymity could choose to use a pseudonym, of course.

Edited by Old Toad

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Hi Todd,

You're completely twisting Atlas' argument, and completely misclassifying two totally different aspects. No one is suggesting putting Objectivist ideas under a bush. We're talking about tactics here which is a whole separate class of ideas and concepts. The two should not be treated the same and that is what you are doing. One is the what, the other is the how. Just because the what is out in the open does not require the how to be. The arguments about freedom of expression are ludicrous. By the way if you can actually link the principle of freedom of expression to an ethical mandate that we should openly broadcast our particular tactics I'd love to hear that.

The objective and method in football is clearly known and stated. However the plays are kept secret. That is because for every offensive play there is an equal checking play on the defensive side. Part of the key is to keep the defense guessing as to what the play is going to be. That is as much a competitive advantage as any patent or trade secret.

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The objective and method in football is clearly known and stated. However the plays are kept secret. That is because for every offensive play there is an equal checking play on the defensive side. Part of the key is to keep the defense guessing as to what the play is going to be. That is as much a competitive advantage as any patent or trade secret.

(bold mine)

Are you saying that truth or reason need "competitive advantage" in terms of closed to the public strategy (or secret marketing approach) in order to succeed over (or successfully compete with) falsehood and irrationality?

Edited by ~Sophia~

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(bold mine)

Are you saying that truth or reason need "competitive advantage" in terms of closed to the public strategy (or secret marketing approach) in order to succeed over (or successfully compete with) falsehood and irrationality?

Your bold is incorrect. Truth and reason are the method and objectives, and are completely public. And yes, I am saying that. If it were not true, simply publishing Atlas Shrugged would have been enough to have the world see the light. There is a mechanism to advocacy that is in addition to what is being advocated.

The tactics of advocacy may have reason to be kept from those who would subvert or counter them. The substance of what you advocate is a different matter altogether.

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Kendall,

Your words “completely twisting” and “ludicrous” are personal attacks, accusing me of intentional distortions and attacking my intelligence. They are ad hominem.

Why are “tactics” for spreading Objectivism a completely separate class of ideas and concepts from Objectivism? Is there a dichotomy in the “how” and the “what” in spreading Objectivism?

Football is an inapposite analogy. This is not a game – this is a matter of promoting reason.

I looked at the blog cited by Atlas51184. The blog was full of attacks on both the “what” and the “how” – including substantive articles (“what”) and the trying to build Founders College (“how”).

Further, Ayn Rand wrote an article on tactics for spreading Objectivism: “What Can One Do?” The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 7, January 3, 1972. She didn’t limit its publication to a select group of people. Sure, she could have, but how would it have helped to do so?

My comment about “freedom of expression” was simply a contextual statement – in this country we have it (mostly). In this context, I just don’t see why we need secret tactics to promote Objectivism. I never made the argument you say I am making in this regard, I put any possible confusion to rest in my second post on this thread, and now you insist that I am making it and calling me ludicrous. In addition to ad hominem, this is straw man.

My question relates to the untowardness of trying to promote reason as against the irrational with efforts at secret tactics. What “tactic” to promote reason can be secret? How does an attempted analogy to tactics in football help us understand the tactics that might be used to get a person to read Atlas Shrugged? In the context of our country, I do not see how secret tactics serve the goal. I am asking how those who are participating think it does.

Edited by Old Toad

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And yes, I am saying that. If it were not true, simply publishing Atlas Shrugged would have been enough to have the world see the light.

I don't think that true ideas require that and someone at ARI must agree with me since their strategy for getting Objectivist message out is made available to the public: here

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I don't think that true ideas require that and someone at ARI must agree with me since their strategy for getting Objectivist message out is made available to the public: here

And you know this to be a complete disclosure of ALL relevant details? I'm surprised not to find which media outlets they are targeting, and which organizations they are watching that they might find particularly offensive and singled out for specific responses. Dates, outlets, etc.

No one is saying that ALL information should be kept secret. But you need to make a case for why such other information I am obligated to reveal to those who would thwart me? ARI did not.

Edited by KendallJ

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Kendall,

Your words “completely twisting” and “ludicrous” are personal attacks, accusing me of intentional distortions and attacking my intelligence. They are ad hominem.

My apologies Todd. You're right I retract those. I took your inference about "freedom of expression" as an argument from intimidation, since you did not make the connection in any way clear and it was seemingly your only basis for dissent, and I got upset about it.

I'll answer more later. I've got to get to work.

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Given the small amount of information in that announcement, discussing whether privacy is warranted is highly speculative. If a group of Objectivists want to gather and discuss tips and techniques to improve their advocacy efforts, what's wrong with them not wanting to make everything they say public?

There are sections of ObjectivismOnline that are only open to moderators. Nothing wrong with that. There are some things one prefers to discuss amongst friends without having to be careful to specify a context that a stranger may not understand; there are some quarrels one may wish to keep private; there are some tips one might want to pass along only to friends; there might be some discussions that -- by their nature -- reveal locations and background precisely enough to reveal identity. Perhaps it won't even matter for 95% of what is discussed; but, if a group of fellow-travellers wish to impose a small bit of privacy (like a global password) governed purely by an honor system, that's their call, and unless one joins up and sees that it is hindering the purposes, I don't see how an objection is not simply speculative.

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I don’t doubt the need for strategy and tactics in general for the promotion of Objectivism, and nor is that in question. Moreover, nor do I doubt the need for at least some secrecy surrounding those tactics. I can think of a variety of legitimate reasons for this. For instance, I don’t think that students who may fear being marked down by anti-Objectivist professors (or worse) are paranoid. Kendall’s analogy of the playbook and wanting to keep it secret is applicable in the appropriate context.

That being said, I do raise an eyebrow at the particulars raised by that blog. Consider the one about providing factual refutations – Toad is correct, why on earth need a discussion of that be kept secret? “ZOMG! They know our counterarguments to their lies!” Err, so? Sure, the haters then try to whip up other arguments and lies in response, but then what? They’re going to learn of them eventually as the Objectivist counterarguments are used. Is that blogger seriously suggesting that it would be productive for Objectivists to spend a fair chunk of their time in a literary arms race?? You can be certain thanks to this thread and Diana’s announcement that the haters know about this, so eventually you can start seeing things like “How to identify Objectivist tactics.” Is there going to be a countering tactic to that too?? All that will really achieve is seeing these Objectivists chasing little bits of bait dangled by dishonest people laughing their heads off! If the factual refutations are done up right then they stand on their own two feet and there is no harm whatever in other Objectivists making submissions on new content or editing existing content, all of which can be seen by anyone just like the content of this forum. Demanding secrecy for material of this nature is a confession of lack of confidence. If that is the case, where privacy is a valid concern, then some real security would not go astray and these self-same people are not going to be in any position to be advocates.

Toad saw talk of manipulation. I didn’t see that – I saw a group of people engaged in childish play-acting in a place where adults may hold them as exemplar of what Objectivism is about. I have no problem with secret tactics in the appropriate context and place, no problems with a private discussion forum with real security for people lacking confidence to talk about whatever without being googled, no problem with the content these guys have in mind, and I do admire their enthusiasm - but come on, mixing all that together while going on about plays and counterplays and requiring a ludicrously weak secrecy system is the kind of drama-queenery I’d expect from over-zealous mid-teenagers, not serious adult Objectivists.

JJM

Edited by John McVey

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John, Toad,

You're reading way too much into the privacy issue. I simply do not want certain people to benefit from this advice, and I am also aware that many Objectivists who would have constructive advice to share may not want to do so in a public forum for all to see.

John,

"Consider the one about providing factual refutations – Toad is correct, why on earth need a discussion of that be kept secret? “ZOMG! They know our counterarguments to their lies!” Err, so?"

"I saw a group of people engaged in childish play-acting"

Have you really? I don't recall sending you a password, so I'm doubtful that you saw much of anything. But your obnoxiousness is noted. You won't have to worry about my childish antics pulling you down in the future. If you ever warm up to the idea don't bother emailing me for info.

To anyone who is interested but maybe a little skeptical - please send an email to the address listed on the blog and I'll answer your questions in as much detail as you need. That way if you decide to be rude you can at least do so based on some evidence.

Edited by Atlas51184

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No one is saying that ALL information should be kept secret. But you need to make a case for why such other information I am obligated to reveal to those who would thwart me? ARI did not.

It is not my claim that anyone is obligated. I am questioning weather or not this approach is a good idea, especially given the public announcement about it.

You won't have to worry about my childish antics pulling you down in the future. If you ever warm up to the idea don't bother emailing me for info.

And there we go.

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So if someone raises skepticisms of you in a public forum among friends, skepticisms more specifically of your super secret fan club, they can face being denied entry in future? However, if they restrict any such skepticism to formal, written correspondence with you, they'll be alright?

Jog on, mate. :D

I think John and Toad have raised a very legitimate concern between them, that of the 'literary arms race'. You get this same stuff with Atheist and Christian activists, with them writing memorable retorts, counter-retorts and on and on, which you'll then see repeated in forums, Youtube comments and Digg new stories all over the world.

As John said, if someone knows the score for a concrete back-and-forth over an issue, such as, for example, answering the queries about Health Insurance and Public Health Care, then fine, they'll be alright for a limited time. However, you cannot keep your arguments hidden and then somehow hope your team of Objectivist Super Scouts will be able to go out and battle down the Collectivist Clobberers, with any long term agenda. Better to make those arguments public, as the ARI do via Press Releases and Letters to the Editor, or by their public appearances. Otherwise, you're just encouraging the holding of concrete arguments, rather than encouraging the strengthening of one's ability to abstract.

These comments only apply if that is the nature of your blog. If not, then ignore that I have said anything and carry on with your day. I can understand your need for privacy, if your wish is to keep the kind of people who hurl the words, "Randite" or "Ubermensch-wannabe" as if they are legitimate arguments in and of themselves, out of your comment space. However, wouldn't a more sensible solution be a forum like this, where one can more tightly control the sort of people allowed to frequent, for example, by removing guest-posting privileges, or banning as soon as someone starts deciding to post comments like "Now, this whole 'Three axioms' thing, I think Rand was kind of wrong with thse actually".

I just think that your activism will be more effective if it is public; after all, I would never have found this forum, where I've learnt a great deal through recommendations, debates and personal inquiries, were it not for stumbling here many a-time via Google.

Edited by Tenure

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I don't see what all the :D is about. It's not a terrible idea. If you're interested in a semi-private Objectivism-advocacy blog, join it and see what you think. If not, don't. But in any case, I think the guy who created it deserves our good will and the benefit of the doubt.

--Dan Edge

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It is not my claim that anyone is obligated. I am questioning weather or not this approach is a good idea, especially given the public announcement about it.

Now the issue fo the public announcement of it is one I would agree with. Generally announcing that you're going to have a private get together, and doing so publicly is bad form, an issue of manners.

Announcing it on her blog is one thing, and recognize that Diana does not control which of her blog posts get cross-posted to OO. I've had several blog posts which got posted to OO which I later had to ask to be removed because they weren't suitable for the forum.

I think the question about whether it is a good idea depends on the specific context fo the situation and what one has to lose or gain by public disclosure and of what particular information one is trying to disclose. There is nothing, in general on the surface of it, that contradicts Objectivist priniples, per se. We haven't taken the conversation to that level yet. I think the general arguments that are being made have not made the linkage appropriately.

Hi Kendall,

Thanks for your reply. I am sorry I was not more clear and made you upset.

Don't worry my friend. You didn't make me upset. I control my own emotions. But thanks for the thought. :D

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Tenure,

"So if someone raises skepticisms of you in a public forum among friends, skepticisms more specifically of your super secret fan club, they can face being denied entry in future? However, if they restrict any such skepticism to formal, written correspondence with you, they'll be alright?"

Of course not. What I object to is John calling me childish, even though he hasn't a clue as to what is on the blog. He did not begin, as Old Toad did, by saying something like, "This is an interesting idea, but I have reservations about a, b, and c." I would have been completely unoffended by that, and would have patiently answered any lingering questions. (Old Toad runs a large Objectivist group, so I'd love for him to contribute to the discussions on the blog.) Instead John began with, "I don't know anything about the venture, but I'll declare in ignorance that anyone who is involved is childish."

Critics and skeptics? Not a problem. People who insult the intellectual abilities of other people without evidence? I'm not interested in wasting my time on them.

And, your "super secret fan club" comment betrays unwarranted hostility. I've offered to give the password to anyone who asks for it, and I encourage everyone I give it to to pass it on. No charge, no strings attatched, just agree to respect privacy. I've given the password to a dozen people I didn't even know existed 5 days ago.

Kendall,

"Now the issue fo the public announcement of it is one I would agree with. Generally announcing that you're going to have a private get together, and doing so publicly is bad form, an issue of manners."

Just a quick correction. I didn't announce it publicly. I put an announcement on Diana's (private) OBlogger list, and I told a couple dozen people I know. I asked people to pass the word on. The blog is blocked from being picked up by google searches. I'm trying to make it as private as possible while still alerting its existence to as many people as possible. The whole point is for Objectivists to pool their collective wisdom on activism and persuasion, so the more the better.

To everyone who objects to my privacy policy. PLEASE BE CONSISTENT. The OAC, HBL, and Diana's OBloggers list all have similar privacy conditions; those hostile to Objectivism need not apply. Will you all now start threads denouncing OAC as childish? Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate must be childish assholes just like me, because they don't let you into the OAC unless you sign something that says you won't share OAC info and material.

But nope. I'm the jerk. I took my time to set something up that many people already find of value. I invited all of you to be part of it. So far we have two good discussion on spreading Objectivsm, one started by me, the other started by Diana. But Sophia, John, Tenure, none of you took one second to research the project before declaring the whole thing bullshit and anyone who benefits from it childish and irresponsible. Nice.

Edited by Atlas51184

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These comments only apply if that is the nature of your blog.
Seriously, Tenure, this sounds like the guys who review movies from little snippets they've heard, not having ever seen it themselves!

I haven't looked at the site, so I can't say it is good or bad. However, to dismiss it based on speculation of what it might be is pretty rash. Either give fellow Objectivists the benefit of doubt, or check them out for yourself. It is hardly benevolent to be derogatory about it, calling it a "super secret fan club".

Now the issue fo the public announcement of it is one I would agree with. Generally announcing that you're going to have a private get together, and doing so publicly is bad form, an issue of manners.
What's bad form about it. I cross-posted Diana's post here because I saw it as a friendly invitation to fellow Objectivists. It would be no different if I were to post here in the "activism sub-forum", saying that I want to work on an activism project, but I'd like to keep the details private, so PM me if you want to help. What would be rude about that? (Still, of course, if Diana wants this thread pulled, I'd be glad to oblige, seeing the turn it has taken.)

To my mind what is really rude is not taking a benevolent attitude toward someone making an effort like this. Instead, take ownership -- join up, find out what it is like, help, then if you think removing passwords will help, advocate it.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I took it upon myself to request the password from Diana, and have visited the blog, and I think its a great idea! There are only a couple posts, but so far it looks worthwhile, especially for someone like me (a college Oist activist) who is interested in spreading the ideas of Oism as effectively as I can.

I cannot BELIEVE how ridiculous this topic has become. Grow up!

Now the issue fo the public announcement of it is one I would agree with. Generally announcing that you're going to have a private get together, and doing so publicly is bad form, an issue of manners.

No, it would be more like "I'm having a party at my house, which is gated, just call me on the buzzer, identify yourself, and I'd be glad to let you in"

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SoftwareNerd, Athena,

Thank you for your comments. The only limitation on participation is that participants are Objectivists. Sophia, Tenure, and John would have been more then welcomed. Not so much any more given their attitude.

SoftwareNerd: "I cross-posted Diana's post here because I saw it as a friendly invitation to fellow Objectivists."

That's exactly what it was.

"Instead, take ownership -- join up, find out what it is like, help, then if you think removing passwords will help, advocate it."

In fact, I invited comments and criticisms of the idea in my announcement on the OBloggers list. Of the many people who have since contacted me, all like the privacy ideas. Some have offered alternatives to the password system. I've already made modifications based on reasonable criticism. I'm not married to the password idea though; it was simply the easiest way I could think of to keep the venture somewhat private.

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