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Ayn Rand on a calender with Che Guevera?

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You know, I just noticed the interesting email is the one you didn't include. The first one you mailed to ARI. You started with their reply to you. The one that actually presents your case to them. I'd like you to post that one, just so we can see what the basis of your argument was.

You could clarify this for us all if rather than saying "I was only addressing this point" if you could restate your original argument. You've said you thought the concept of her being in the calendar was offensive. You spent an entire email pointing out that she would not have allowed her picture to be placed in such a calendar (with no statement about what that implies ARI should be doing). If it was not to argue that ARI should also not allow her picture to be included, then don't you agree that the email is entirely incoherent?

If you were trying to argue that ARI should not do this, then you made a mistake in thinking that Rand's opinion in how her name should be used while alive was the same as that after she died. It was your error, not ARI's. But after they pointed this out to you, you continued to argue about what Rand would have done. That was after the aspect of post-death use came up, not as you claim only before.

There are a lot of inconsistencies here. But if you want to try to restate your case, then I'd be happy to hear it.

This was my first letter to them.

Hello,

Can I ask why ARI would allow Ayn Rand to be featured on a calendar that also features communists?

Thanks,

**** *****

For the last time. I want to discuss the issue of whether or not it was apprpriate for them to grant permission for her name and picture to be on that calendar.

You are free to debate my decorum or approach to complaining. But, you can do so without my further participation. It is a peripheral issue that has nothing really to do with whether or not their decision is right or wrong.

I could have phrased things better to him, I admit. And he also could have been less pompous. I am passionate about issues like this.

OF

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This was my first letter to them.

Hello,

Can I ask why ARI would allow Ayn Rand to be featured on a calendar that also features communists?

Thanks,

**** *****

For the last time. I want to discuss the issue of whether or not it was apprpriate for them to grant permission for her name and picture to be on that calendar.

You are free to debate my decorum or approach to complaining. But, you can do so without my further participation. It is a peripheral issue that has nothing really to do with whether or not their decision is right or wrong.

I could have phrased things better to him, I admit. And he also could have been less pompous. I am passionate about issues like this.

OF

Of, I'm not interested in getting into it any farther, and I appreciate it that you acknowledge it. Reading the whole thing together I can imagine that you could have believed that you were being complete and not pompous. If you did not intend it that way, realize that the way the letter reads, it can easily be mistaken that you were presumptuous, and you did make a mistake in understanding how Rand applied the principle of the usage of her name.

As to the appropriateness, I think I've given you my perspective on that already.

Best,

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OF, To you, as an Objectivist, seeing Rand on a calendar like that has immense negative symbolism. However, you have to step back and ask yourself what a non-Objectivist would read into it. What would a buyer of such a calendar conclude? "Rand was an Atheist", or "Rand supported Che", or "Rand was an important figure", or what?

If you were to see a calendar with Elvis on one month and other artists on other months, would you conclude that Elvis approved of those others? If not, then why do you think a calendar buyer would conclude that Rand supported Che?

The letter from ARI made a good point that someone buying such a calendar when Rand was alive might actually have a basis to conclude that Rand had approved; however, hardy anyone would draw that conclusion today.

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OF, To you, as an Objectivist, seeing Rand on a calendar like that has immense negative symbolism. However, you have to step back and ask yourself what a non-Objectivist would read into it. What would a buyer of such a calendar conclude? "Rand was an Atheist", or "Rand supported Che", or "Rand was an important figure", or what?

If you were to see a calendar with Elvis on one month and other artists on other months, would you conclude that Elvis approved of those others? If not, then why do you think a calendar buyer would conclude that Rand supported Che?

The letter from ARI made a good point that someone buying such a calendar when Rand was alive might actually have a basis to conclude that Rand had approved; however, hardy anyone would draw that conclusion today.

That is true. But do you think that in some way grouping them together or allowing her to be in a calender with Chi on the cover is giving sanction to him being honored?

O

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The person who is creating the calendar might be giving sanction. Even there, I would not know. (I haven't clicked on the auction and looked at the details.) For instance, the whole idea might be: "see ... atheism is not something limited to Marx... Atheists are a diverse group". Of course, someone could perceive a sanction on part of the calendar-maker (not on the part of Rand, as we've already agreed).

On the topic of sanction... how would you describe why exactly sanction is evil? i.e. in what way does it work against one's values? And then, how does that apply to this specific case?

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Suppose that someone wanted to write a book critical of Ayn Rand or Objectivism with a photo of Ayn Rand on the cover. Should ARI license their intellectual property to him? I don't think it's ARI's job in its role as the manager of the archives to decide whether a particular work is intellectually honest or "good for the cause." It would be a drain on their resources, and it would imply that works with content that they had licensed was approved or sanctioned by them. Attempting to control public perception through copyright sounds more like the Church of Scientology, not the Ayn Rand Institute.

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For the last time. I want to discuss the issue of whether or not it was apprpriate for them to grant permission for her name and picture to be on that calendar.
You have basically offered only two justifications for your negative conclusion: a piece from her July 1946 letter to Rogers regarding the smear-review of FH in the Sun and the apparent offer to allow her space for a post-hoc response, and your personal intuition. As far as the letter to Rogers is concerned, please also note her comment about

an exchange to the mutual advantage of both parties, like any proper exchange in a free capitalistic society (in which I believe). It would be to my advantage to have my name and article appear in a newspaper's literary supplement—and it would be to the newspaper's advantage to run an article by me, since there are readers interested in what I have to say. This is the only kind of proper and moral cooperation between men, cooperation that profits both sides.

In short, it is not the fact that the Sun also published something non-Objectivist, indeed antithetical to Objectivism, that counts, it is the fact of the direct blind-siding of her via a trashing of what was at the time her greatest work that matters most. A direct attack is special. If that point needs to be elaborated on, I'd be happy to oblige.

Now as for your personal intuitions, I have been reading Objectivism since 1971, so I have a bit of a time advantage on you. I do not share your intuitions, not do I share your meta-intuitions about Peikoff and Binswanger. I invite Drs. Binswanger and Peikoff to post their own views of what they believe Rand would have wished, and without posts directly from them, I propose that your Binswanger-Peikoff meta-intuition has no cash value.

I myself am not certain on this matter (see OPAR Ch. 5 on the world's most righteous explication of the concept "certain"). I invite you to point to an actual fact that supports your claim. My tendency is to put more trust in those people who spoke with Rand in their lifetimes. You have not given me any reason (have not pointed to any fact) that would cause me to believe your position.

What can you do about that? Anything?

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You have basically offered only two justifications for your negative conclusion: a piece from her July 1946 letter to Rogers regarding the smear-review of FH in the Sun and the apparent offer to allow her space for a post-hoc response, and your personal intuition. As far as the letter to Rogers is concerned, please also note her comment about

an exchange to the mutual advantage of both parties, like any proper exchange in a free capitalistic society (in which I believe). It would be to my advantage to have my name and article appear in a newspaper's literary supplement—and it would be to the newspaper's advantage to run an article by me, since there are readers interested in what I have to say. This is the only kind of proper and moral cooperation between men, cooperation that profits both sides.

In short, it is not the fact that the Sun also published something non-Objectivist, indeed antithetical to Objectivism, that counts, it is the fact of the direct blind-siding of her via a trashing of what was at the time her greatest work that matters most. A direct attack is special. If that point needs to be elaborated on, I'd be happy to oblige.

Now as for your personal intuitions, I have been reading Objectivism since 1971, so I have a bit of a time advantage on you. I do not share your intuitions, not do I share your meta-intuitions about Peikoff and Binswanger. I invite Drs. Binswanger and Peikoff to post their own views of what they believe Rand would have wished, and without posts directly from them, I propose that your Binswanger-Peikoff meta-intuition has no cash value.

I myself am not certain on this matter (see OPAR Ch. 5 on the world's most righteous explication of the concept "certain"). I invite you to point to an actual fact that supports your claim. My tendency is to put more trust in those people who spoke with Rand in their lifetimes. You have not given me any reason (have not pointed to any fact) that would cause me to believe your position.

What can you do about that? Anything?

The very first entry for "Sanction" in the Ayn Rand Lexicon is: "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it"

I believe that is what ARI is doing when it licenses Ayn Rand to appear in a calendar with Che Guevera on the cover.

I too would like for Binswanger or Peikoff to weigh in on it. But, I doubt that will happen.

As I said earlier...putting her in that calender is literally grouping her with a man that would probably have her killed if he had the chance and is the opposite of her in every way except for his belief in an almighty. If Hitler had been on the cover would it have been approved?

It is my conviction based on the totality of what I have read of hers, that she would never have allowed it. Of course I could be wrong. But, its a very educated guess.

But, I can see the points of those who would say that her message is not being compromised by her appearance. But, isnt she being somewhat insulted? He is the featured person on the cover. She is just "February".

O

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Okay, I looked at the actual calendar, and it features the following people: Lord Byron; Ayn Rand; Frederic Joliot-Curie; Emile Zola; Sigmund Freud; Che Guevara; George Bernard Shaw; H.P. Lovecraft; Margaret Sanger; Zhao Ziyang; Mark Twain; Marlene Dietrich

Clearly, nobody could draw the conclusion from such a motley crew, that any of these folks would agree with the others, nor even that they would be "neutral" about each other. Indeed, this is probably the message of the producer: viz. that Atheists are such a diverse lot.

Each person is featured on the month in which their birthday falls. This tells us that some "better" choices have been left out, because they shared a birthday with someone more appropriate for that particular month. So, other than the general message of "Atheists are a diverse lot", the additional message is: of all the atheists born in February, Ayn Rand is the most illustrious.

Each month also has a short write-up about the person. Since the Rand page is offered as the single month sample (indicating that she's top of the dozen, in fame), we can see what the producer wrote.

... novelist and philosopher best known for creating a philosophy she named "Objectivism", and for writing the novels We The Living, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and the novella Anthem. Rand's writing (both fiction and non-fiction) emphasizes the philosophic concepts of objective reality in metaphysics, reason in epistemology, and rational egoism in ethics. In politics, she was a proponent of laissez-faire capitalism and a staunch defender of individual rights. Quote: "My philosophy, in essence, is man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive acheivement as his noblest acrtivity, and reason as his only absolute."
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The very first entry for "Sanction" in the Ayn Rand Lexicon is: "To discuss evil in a manner implying neutrality, is to sanction it"
I presume you're aware that Rand was interviewed by Playboy in 1964. You will notice that she did not condemn Playboy which I presume you will recognise was an icon of hedonism in the era. This is a problem for your theory that Rand would "really prefer" to shun all connections with anything evil. What you're missing is that being interviewed by Playboy does not imply that Rand was morally neutral, nor does appearing in a work also containing a picture of a dead Bolivian commie constitute Rand sanctioning evil. It's really hard to compute the implication of pictures correctly -- I mean, look at d'Anconia and how hard it was to correct compute him. Given that Rand has been dead for decades, I just don't see how you can claim that her presence in this calendar constitutes a moral sanction on her part of communist, or of Don Juan, or anything else.

More generally, it seems to me that your theory reduces to saying that Objectivists should, as a matter of policy, always leave the room when a bad person enters, to avoid being tainted by association, if they cannot or do not actively denounce the bad person. Rand's own writings -- the conduct of the heroes in her novels -- shows that this simply is not so. If Guevara's simple presence in his calendar constitutes passive advocacy of communism, then Rand's presence equally constitutes passive advocacy of Objectivism. In other words, you've identifies the reason why Rand would support her image being used posthumously -- to engage the enemy.

We can't just retreat to the gulch fleeing evil, we have to actively reach out and find the minds that will listen, and this is one way to combat the evil.

She is just "February".
My mother was born in February, bub. Watch what you say about February.
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I think an important aspect of this that no one but OF seems to be highlighting is that Che is not just another month of the calendar, he is on the cover. I understand and agree with the point that has now been made in numerous ways--that Ayn Rand's mere inclusion in a work that gives equal prominence to total scumbags is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as Kendall suggested, it may be a very good thing. However, this is necessarily unlike the example of an encyclopedia in which entries of comparable importance receive an equivalent amount of space. Che's visage does not adorn the cover of any encyclopedia I've seen, nor do I think Ayn Rand would be included in such an atrocity.

OF makes a good point. If Hitler (or Stalin) were on the cover of that calendar, February would have had to find another poster girl. Look at it; if you passed that calendar in a store would you even do more than pause to snarl? The title is minuscule compared to Che's face; barely an afterthought. Perhaps the publishers were hoping to ride the coat tails of the horrific fad Che has somehow become a part of (anyone else want to slap upside the head those hipsters wearing the Che shirts when they don't even know who he was?) or perhaps they really wanted to imply he represents some kind of atheistic ideal. Either way, the message clearly centralizes on the commie, not the atheism.

I think it is possibly that some misguided atheist who is fostering socialistic sympathies because he thinks it compatible with his religious sensibilities may be inspired by the (rather well-written) blurb Rand has and change his ways. I also think it more likely that Rand has no business in that calendar.

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I think an important aspect of this that no one but OF seems to be highlighting is that Che is not just another month of the calendar, he is on the cover. I understand and agree with the point that has now been made in numerous ways--that Ayn Rand's mere inclusion in a work that gives equal prominence to total scumbags is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as Kendall suggested, it may be a very good thing. However, this is necessarily unlike the example of an encyclopedia in which entries of comparable importance receive an equivalent amount of space. Che's visage does not adorn the cover of any encyclopedia I've seen, nor do I think Ayn Rand would be included in such an atrocity.

OF makes a good point. If Hitler (or Stalin) were on the cover of that calendar, February would have had to find another poster girl. Look at it; if you passed that calendar in a store would you even do more than pause to snarl? The title is minuscule compared to Che's face; barely an afterthought. Perhaps the publishers were hoping to ride the coat tails of the horrific fad Che has somehow become a part of (anyone else want to slap upside the head those hipsters wearing the Che shirts when they don't even know who he was?) or perhaps they really wanted to imply he represents some kind of atheistic ideal. Either way, the message clearly centralizes on the commie, not the atheism.

I think it is possibly that some misguided atheist who is fostering socialistic sympathies because he thinks it compatible with his religious sensibilities may be inspired by the (rather well-written) blurb Rand has and change his ways. I also think it more likely that Rand has no business in that calendar.

Hi tjgl,

Thanks for a thoughtful and considered defense of OF. I have to admit that the aspect you raise was the one that gave me the most pause when considering this issue, but I have a thought about it specifically and tell me if you think it has any weight.

The question to ponder is, What does Che Guevara on the cover mean? You say the message centralizes the commie. In what way?

Here's my perspective and I'll toss it out and see what people think. It is subtler and I can certainly understand why people's stomach turn at the idea, but I wrestled with a similar issue and was no less stomach-turning to me, and maybe comparing them will help people understand why I don't take the offense to it that I might have once.

The cover is the thing that is prominently displayed in the bookstore. It is also the thing that faces the wall for 365 days a year. It is a sales and marketing tool. I can't say whether a significant amount of thought was put into deciding which of hte 12 was going to be on the cover, but let's assume for a moment that it was a conscious decision. What is the general demographic of the person who today woudl go out and buy a calendar specifically showing off his atheism? i.e. who is the market I should target at if I want to get Ayn Rand's picture in as many hands as possible with a calendar on atheism. As much as it pains me to think it, I think the reality is that the dominant market now sits on the left, liberal leaning folks. The Dawkinses and Harrises of the world aren't seen as conservatives, and politically, I get the sense the even they are a bit left leaning themselves.

I take a DIM hypothesis approach on this. Given Peikoff's much more recent stance that the D left, socialists and such, is dying; that their intellectual base is defenseless to the onslaught of organized religion, then at least one of the groups that Objectivism should be targeting is this D1 left-leaning group of people, not because Che is such a force, but because now is the opportune time to introduce Rand to the people who still believe in the use of reason - the ones who think Twain, and Freud, and Byron and Shaw and Darwin are still worthy of our admiration, and have not already replaced these with the likes of Jerry Falwell, and Jim Dobson, and (like the most recent thread that turned my stomach shows) Pope Benedict. So yes, I think this calendar, as much as Che on the cover turns my stomach, might rationally be a really good thing, appealing to a market that is ripe for Rand, although in some respects (primarily political - in the philosphy sense) they are far from her. Just as they want to appeal to businessmen who in some respects (at least the many that still go to church in my town) are also still far from her.

If you think of the atheist-christian axis as a source of identification with Rand, my struggle has been on a similar axis, the captialism-socialism axis. This calendar's equivalent on that axis is having a Capitalism calendar that has Rand alongside of a conservative Jerry Falwell. I work everday with people who bucket themselves according to the capitalism-socialism distinction and woudl never in a millions years consider voting for Hillary Clinton, even if they had to vote for a Mike Huckabee. And that's where I came from. And yet here we have Peikoff and many now in Objectivist circles saying that religion is a bigger enemy and if it's Huckabee vs. Clinton, the rational vote is Clinton! Just as I had to face the idea of voting for a democrat (and yes I actually went back to all the Rand I could and saw that she wasn't a big fan of conservative politicians to realize I might have been wrong) this sort of struggle with seeing her next to Che is similar. Today, I'd rather see her in a calendar for atheists alongside Che, than a calendar for Capitalists alongside Farwell.

In short, if the real enemy is religion, and you want to appeal to and gain share of mind of today's atheists, and you really belive that the intellectual force of the socialist left is dead or dying, who might you tolerate being seen with in order to do that?

Just a thought, and certainly the strategy could be criticized, but I'd like to know your thoughts.

[PS: this whole discussion of Rand as marketing device, is the one that is enabled after she is dead. I think while she was a live, her sanction had paramount consideration. Today she can be treated as an icon, a symbol, without her implied sanction being granted to anything. I think that might be the difference in her stance, but I don't have any evidence, it is my hypothesis. The whole idea of analyzing Rand in terms of a brand is a fascinating topic for me, and certainly there is much research on the meaning of brands, and implications psychologically of associations among images and brands, which is why I asked the question about what we think the association of Rand with Che in this manner, actually means.]

Edited by KendallJ
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anyone else want to slap upside the head those hipsters wearing the Che shirts when they don't even know who he was?

Count me in. :)

When I was in China, people hawking Cold-War-era, "distressed", olive drab satchels bearing the Chinese Red Star to Western tourists was all the rage. ugh.

That's interesting though. The other way to think about this is that Che might have been chosen for nothing other than the fact that there exists, this pop culture "brand" image associated with him. That is, Che is on the cover purely for subconscious "impulse buy" sorts of considerations. In that case, I would argue that even if "Atheism" is less prominent visually, that it is still more important, because then it becomes the more defining thread conceptually. That is, we know that a leftist atheist would be drawn to the cover, but this would also include the idea that someone more strongly influenced by atheism, but ignorant of Che might stilll respond to the "cool" factor of Che and buy the calendar. I put that more in the category of marketing "pandering" and as such a little less in taste, but it is a thought.

Edited by KendallJ
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You say the message centralizes the commie. In what way?

I say it centralizes on Che because, from my little knowledge of marketing, the split second of attention that calendar will receive from passers-by will be one spent glancing at and taking in the photo, rather than reading the title. If the picture were of someone obscure, say, Luther Burbank, the majority of customers would then have to pause and read the title in order to gather it was a calendar on horticulture. However, Che is a figure of international fame, likely moreso than Rand (another component that I assume led to his garnering the cover), so the odds of someone pausing to read 'Atheist' when they assume 'Socialist' is less likely.

The cover is the thing that is prominently displayed in the bookstore. It is also the thing that faces the wall for 365 days a year. It is a sales and marketing tool. I can't say whether a significant amount of thought was put into deciding which of hte 12 was going to be on the cover, but let's assume for a moment that it was a conscious decision.

You know a great deal more about marketing than I do, so I assume you'll agree that there is no way the makers of that calendar did not put serious thought into who would adorn the cover. Your point about it facing the wall for a year is a great one. It's only value is eye-catching in the store. Which means ( A ) rational capitalists will turn away in disgust, ( B ) politically ambiguous atheists will pick it up and flip to the back, and ( C ) avowed socialists will have it in their basket before you can say 'commie.'

But, maybe you're right, maybe this is a good thing. Specifically as it relates to my hypothesized group B. These are the people that could, hopefully, find February of special interest and pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged next time they're at Borders, rather than something featuring Che.

I think, actually, that potential good may outweigh the initial bad I was perceiving--having the symbol of Ayn Rand anywhere near a thing so loudly promoting the philosophy of a creature like Che. So, thanks for the food for thought.

As for religion being a bigger threat than things like socialized healthcare, that's another discussion for another thread. :)

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You know a great deal more about marketing than I do, so I assume you'll agree that there is no way the makers of that calendar did not put serious thought into who would adorn the cover.

Ironically, my guess is that the guys at the calendar company probably didn't think about it that much. My 2nd hypothesis that Che is internationally recognized and some "brand" recognition is actually a better bet, and that might only have been because the yahoo choosing happend to react to it that way himself. It is just a calendar after all, and they have zillions of these things to publish.

Your point about it facing the wall for a year is a great one.

...which makes me wish that Che Guevara toilet paper had been a bigger hit. :)

It's only value is eye-catching in the store. Which means ( A ) rational capitalists will turn away in disgust, ( B ) politically ambiguous atheists will pick it up and flip to the back, and ( C ) avowed socialists will have it in their basket before you can say 'commie.'

But, maybe you're right, maybe this is a good thing. Specifically as it relates to my hypothesized group B. These are the people that could, hopefully, find February of special interest and pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged next time they're at Borders, rather than something featuring Che.

I think, actually, that potential good may outweigh the initial bad I was perceiving--having the symbol of Ayn Rand anywhere near a thing so loudly promoting the philosophy of a creature like Che. So, thanks for the food for thought.

Well for supposedly not knowing much about marketing you just went through a very nice segmentation, target market, and buying behavior analysis. :P That was my whole point about meaning. As educated Objectivists we look at the whole integrated calendar and integrate it into one overarching meaning. However, a picture is not an argument, and a calendar is not a treatise, and to treat it as such is intrinsicism. It is a device, with a purpose. The meaning of the elements of that device are very specific to the context in which the device functions, and from the perspective of whom that device is targeted to appeal. This is the essence of a marketing tool like the cover.

So your breakdown is great because you essentially now look at the results given the context of the buying proces, and what type of customer this calendar would appeal to. The third aspect then is that once the calendar is bought it would be interesting to think about what sort of effect Rand's presence or absence would have on that particular buyer.

So here are a couple of comments on your breakdown.

( A ) rational capitalists will turn away in disgust, having never made the dubious association between Che and Rand

( B ) politically ambiguous atheists will pick it up and flip to the back, bingo, this is the target market as you have so astutely implied

( C ) avowed socialists will have it in their basket before you can say 'commie.' and if they know anything of Rand, will probably refuse to make the dubious association between Che and Rand

( D ) an unambiguous Christian will also turn away in disgust, probably regardless of political affiliation. I count that as a good thing.

If B is the target group then, I want Rand in there (and by implication on the back) as a positive alternative to Che, because of their political ambiguity. They are ripe to be handed a positive set of ideas, and if her presence among the other authors is enough to cause someone to pick up Atlas, then for our purposes the calendar, as a device, has succeeded in its purpose.

Your analysis is brilliant. Any time you want to become a marketer let me know. :)

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I presume you're aware that Rand was interviewed by Playboy in 1964. You will notice that she did not condemn Playboy which I presume you will recognise was an icon of hedonism in the era.

Whoa! Playboy is not an icon of hedonism. It's an icon of female beauty and sexiness.

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I haven't been on the forum in a while, and this thread instantly caught my eye. Ayn and Che go together like chocolate and battery acid. I did read a fair portion of the posts, but I am sure I am probably making some points that have already been made, though I promise not to insult anyone. :P

The diverse group of atheists in the calendar removes all credibility for me. Where's the man who actually declared "God is dead"? Why would anyone buy this calendar anyway? Unfortunately, I have noticed that atheism has become a terrible fad as of late, a false intellectualism for many, and this calendar is just an example of trying to make a quick buck off insecure atheists--nothing more, nothing less. After all, it's on ebay!

The thing that got me was that I wasn't aware ARI was similar to a collection of Muslim clerics dictating how the image of its prophet be used, and I am a little disappointed in that regard. It also surprises me that she only agreed to have her name used after her death, and I find ARI's response humorous: "Based on your reading of her letters, do you know what her opinion would have been about permitting an "Ayn Rand Institute" in her lifetime? Would you therefore like ARI to close down?" Yes! It seems to do little but rob from the value of her thoughts and deify her in a way that most likely would have repulsed her. If anything, as a philosophy that supports the free market in its purest form, they should be more than glad to plaster Ayn's face on as many things as they can, as it can only generate interest and revenue for the institute. Rand has no opinion on these matters any more--she is dead.

To give this calendar such a deep level of analysis seems to be speaking of an Objectivist insecurity over someone like Che having the same beliefs as Ayn. The sad fact is that Rand, when lumped in with all those who share aspects of her philosophy, has some unseemly bedfellows to accompany her otherwise magnificent allies. Yes, commies are atheist, so they "share" that attribute. She belongs on the calendar by that criteria. To criticize her place within that context, or the choice of the ARI to include her, seems to negate all the knowledge she tried to impart while she was alive. Where is the individual in this argument? Where is the heroism of man? I personally feel, though I definitely don't know as much about Rand compared to most of you, that her emphasis on the individual and reason was her greatest contribution to philosophical thought, and her hatred of communists, however seemingly rational, spoke of a pettiness that remains in objectivism to this day. Why should we care about how anyone perceives that calendar, let alone communist ideals? Because, I just can't bring myself to care about either. Che is an icon because he didn't contribute anything more than revolutionary rhetoric. Ayn brought us all her beautiful and eloquent thoughts. It's obvious who contributed more to mankind.

I guess my point is that I view Rand like the unknown creator of the wheel. Like the wheels on my car, I use her ideas to go places. She provided us with all this wisdom, and in the end that is all that matters. I have her ideas to mull, so I don't need her, nor can I concern myself with how she is perceived by anyone other than me. While I am grateful for her ideas, like the wheels on my car, the origin is a distant second to the value of my acquisition. But, that's just my opinion. :)

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I guess my point is that I view Rand like the unknown creator of the wheel. Like the wheels on my car, I use her ideas to go places. She provided us with all this wisdom, and in the end that is all that matters. I have her ideas to mull, so I don't need her, nor can I concern myself with how she is perceived by anyone other than me. While I am grateful for her ideas, like the wheels on my car, the origin is a distant second to the value of my acquisition. But, that's just my opinion. :)

That certainly is a valid view to take. But the thought process behind people and organizations like ARI is "well, it's great that I have wheels, but what if I could make it so everyone else has wheels too? Then they can regale me with stories of their travels (in non-metaphor land, exchange the results of their productivity with mine) and stop asking me to give them a ride.

As an aside, extending metaphors is much more fun than it looks.

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That certainly is a valid view to take. But the thought process behind people and organizations like ARI is "well, it's great that I have wheels, but what if I could make it so everyone else has wheels too? Then they can regale me with stories of their travels (in non-metaphor land, exchange the results of their productivity with mine) and stop asking me to give them a ride.

As an aside, extending metaphors is much more fun than it looks.

To extend this metaphor as far as it can possibly go, most people have wheels, and some simply prefer walking. It makes little sense for me to spend any time contemplating the inferior tread on their tires or the fact their hubcaps are rusty, let alone try to convince them mine are better. If they see me rolling by and notice the immaculate condition of my freshly polished wheels, maybe they will be inspired to inquire as to how they can have the same. Or, maybe they will simply get run over. But, to become a wheel salesperson just because I know my wheels are better than theirs, is simply something I cannot do. I'll leave the job of converting people to the Christians, with all their flat tires. :)

Obviously, I despise religious thought of any kind, and I have noticed that many objectivists turn objectivism into their religion, which is just wrong. I think the biggest mistake we can make is to turn Ayn Rand into some sacred idol, because it instantly discredits most of what objectivism stands for. I feel we should be better than that. She once wrote that “a creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” The whole calendar issue seems very much the latter, turning into nothing more than a contest about the superiority of objectivists over communists. What can we really hope to achieve by debating her place among the motley group of atheists? Affirmation that our atheistic thought is better, that Rand is better than Che? Don't we already know this? It seems that irrational hatred of commies and the religious, who are simply humans with a different set of ideas, is nothing more than insecurity or frustration. I am confident in my ideals, and I just feel the best way to advance objectivism is to live it, not preach it, deify its founder, or criticize those who oppose it. Life is far too short to waste on such pettiness. I want to live!

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I want to live!

Yes! Definitely! Or, to continue the soon-to-be hackneyed metaphor, you want to drive!

But you see, the flat tires, the barefoot pedestrians, the wild-eyed pushing their shopping carts... They clog up and corrupt what should be a beautiful and smooth highway. The fecundity, the efficaciousness, the beauty of your own wheels is or may very soon be restrained by these mindless clankers. To live, constantly swerving around deserted hubcaps in the road, to slow down your own car because the 50 in front are going their maximum speed, which is, incidentally, half yours, to watch as these inferior drivers begin demanding you give them your bumper or your steering wheel or your whole damn car, as if they have some claim on it... is not to live, not in the way we should and can.

So we either have to clean up the highway or leave it (hmm, instead of road rage, is that road shrugging?) for a deserted country road where we can at least go our own way, if without the limitless potential joys of interacting to our mutual benefit with other drivers.

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