Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Public Relations

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

So I was thinking with various means of potential exposure from non-Oists to Objectivism/Objectivist principles (everything from the video game Bioshock to the AS movie which may or may not come to fruition) what kind of exposure do users of this board experience and create? A couple of questions I have include:

How many people are aware of your beliefs?

What type of impressions do others take away from meeting you regarding Objectivism (I was particularly wondering whether anyone has experiences which contradict the stereotype of Objectivists as selfish in the Kantian sense)?

What do most people you interact with know about Objectivism at first blush? (For instance, are people more aware of Rand's personality, the 'cult' stereotype, the issues with the Brandens, etc.)

Lastly do you think positive "advertising", if you will, would have be of any value, and if so how would you suggest going about it? (Note: I know that many will say, no advertisement is needed, just have people read the books, but it certainly makes it harder to interact with the vast majority of people and the possibility of, say, an Objectivist Political Party is made difficult by negative impressions)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as a bump and to share some of my own thoughts, few people known of my beliefs, though I am fairly certain that my advisor shares at least some of them. When I discuss certain principles of Objectivism with students they are receptive but I don't think it quite proper to be introducing or advocating positions to them in an introductory class

. It seems to me that the greatest amount of discussion of principles comes from speaking to work colleagues but even then in depth discussion doesn't usually occur.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Young, as someone who has taken several courses involving public opinion and relations (in fact, public opinion is my speciality), I would say there is no one answer to your questions. However, I will address all questions in general with how I see Objectivism as it is portrayed in mainstream society and academic settings.

All seemingly awkward and negative groups have faced persecution and public dissent in the past. Christianity certainly found itself at odds with not only the established Roman Empire but also every other religious and secular group in the world. To be a Christian in the first century was to be an outcast, a man who accepted that while his doctrine was flawed in the material world, it was the right path, and it would be praised in the afterlife. While Objectivism is different in the sense that all we have is one life, the earthly life and that there is no chance of a deity redeeming us from our own persecution, it is similar in the sense that it is a relatively new movement (after all, the publication of Rand's books is less than 100 years old), and that we, as Objectivists, face a massive amount of criticism and adversity not only from government but also from modern philosophical movements. Let's face it: the popular post-modern philosophy is a rejection of the past, of absolutes, and an embracement of the idea that we can all just coexist if we simply spend enough time and money trying to understand each other.

However, our movement, if we choose to call it that, should take a lesson from history here, specifically Christian history. By the fourth century A.D., the Roman Empire was forced to embrace Christianity, else face the conundrum of a nation of Christians governed by pagans. While part of this certainly had to do with Constantine's acceptance of Christian values, much of it was a matter of public opinion. An empire could not survive, even through force, without a significant amount of support from the public and its values. By the third century, so many had taken to Christianity that it became impractical, even dangerous to not acknowledge it, and in many ways, I see Objectivism becoming the same way.

Certainly I do not mean to suggest Objectivism is a religion or that Ayn Rand is a modern Jesus. Rather the important parallel is philosophy. As more and more people come to realize the dangers of socialism and altruism, they will begin to turn. What scoping event this may take is unknown, but aside from just Christianity (think about rationalism and capitalism bringing an end to the domination of Catholic opinion), I cannot and will not believe that the public will forever embrace the values that our modern culture and politics have offered. At some point, altruism will show its true values and results: that man will not and cannot survive by that code of ethics.

Link to post
Share on other sites
How many people are aware of your beliefs?

My wife and mostly close friends, and co-workers.

What type of impressions do others take away from meeting you regarding Objectivism?

Actually I have found that many people are surprised to meet somebody who seems to have integrity and isn't religious. I got married at a young age and I have had people ask me if the reason I got married so early was because I was religious. People are mainly just surprised and they don't particulary know how to pigeonhole you within their popular conceptions of individuals. Many people have never thought about a particular issue in the manner which an Objectivist approaches it, and the methodology involved in understanding an issue is (to them) unique. For instance, I have been able to come to a much better understanding of modern literature, writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, etc. The reason is because when one can see the underlying idea of something, one can understand it on a much deeper level. I try to read 3-4 newspapers a day. I am able to understand and get to the conceptual root of an article or editorial much quicker than I was before I understood Objectivism (and I'm still trying to learn and understand it more). I think that this manner of approaching issues is what others will notice primarily, but I haven't given it too much thought (it doesn't concern me greatly).

Lastly do you think positive "advertising", if you will, would have be of any value, and if so how would you suggest going about it?

I think advertising has some value, but that value is limited. The widespread use of improper philosophy is indeed a major obstacle; I think some sort of return to reason has to start in the schools and universities, and it may have to be brought into necessity by some calamitous event, such as the US Treasury defaulting on the National Debt, Muslims crashing a plane into the White House, or 100% tax rates.

Edited by adrock3215
Link to post
Share on other sites
How many people are aware of your beliefs?

I couldn't provide a number, but I don't hide them. I wear OCON T-shirts to work and have a framed Ayn Rand quote up in my cubicle.

What type of impressions do others take away from meeting you regarding Objectivism (I was particularly wondering whether anyone has experiences which contradict the stereotype of Objectivists as selfish in the Kantian sense)?

Again, I couldn't say. I don't make it a habit of asking other people what they think of me. I do make an effort to exhibit various virtues, so I'd hope people view me as reasonable, honest, productive and as having integrity. One of the ways I try to engage in activism is simply by living well as a "public Objectivist". It's a small-scale form of battlespace preparation. When people I know read something inaccurate about Objectivism, I want them to think "But Kyle is an Objectivist and he isn't like that."

What do most people you interact with know about Objectivism at first blush? (For instance, are people more aware of Rand's personality, the 'cult' stereotype, the issues with the Brandens, etc.)

I had a co-worker, on finding out that I'm an Objectivist, ask me about Rand's ethics. He knew she advocated selfishness and just couldn't integrate that with his understanding of morality. He wanted me to 'square the circle', so to speak. We had a brief conversation and I lent him a couple of introductory-level pamphlets. We need to have a further discussion at some point, but we're both very busy people.

I view this sort of thing as positive, in that what he had heard about Rand was actually correct.

Lastly do you think positive "advertising", if you will, would have be of any value, and if so how would you suggest going about it?

I think "negative advertising" does a lot of damage. There are many people whose only exposure to Objectivism came in the form of rationalistic ranting from a college freshman sitting in the back of an intro-to-philosophy course, or from half-baked debates on Usenet. If that's their only experience with the philosophy, can they really be blamed for calling it "simplistic" and "the philosophy of high school seniors"?

When I engage in intellectual activism, I always have that image of the rationalistic ranting "Randroid" in the back of my mind as the stereotype to avoid at all costs. Objectivism is a philosophy for living well, achieving happiness on Earth. The best advertising it can get is from people who actually are using it for its intended purpose -- living well and being happy. Most people want to be happy and successful, and if you are they'll be receptive to learning your "secret". (And people who aren't interested in being happy and successful are not likely to become Objectivists in any case.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...