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ARI needs to be more like CATO

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It seems to me that we are at a point in time that Capitalism needs more defenders. I appreciate the Ayn Rand Institutes work but I think it needs to be more active in promoting Capitalism. I don't think the short little 'Op-Ed's' are doing much in the way of promoting Capitalism. They need to be more like Cato to have a bigger impact. Cato has a daily audio podcast. They have regularly released books presenting their point of view, debate events and book forums. During the whole sub prime mortgage debacle ARI has only released short little blurbs here and there. I think we need more. Any thoughts?

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I'd like to point out that ARI has been doing a lot more lectures and talks around the US since the Ayn Rand Center was opened in Washington. If you go to their main page an scroll down a bit, the up-coming lectures are listed in a bar on the right.

Almost every week there are two or three more. Seems to me like they are just getting started, too. I think we can expect a lot more from them in the future.

Edited by Sarrisan
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Cato is a think tank. A policy institute. ARI's primary focus is it's student programs. It is attempting to build more of the intellectual horsepower that would end up staffing it. Libertarian intellectuals are well "a dime a dozen". Objectivist ones are less common.

Given the budget differences and focus this makes sense. I think the direction you point in is exactly where they will eventually land.

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I believe in fact it will be an inevitable consequence of ARC's mission.

Maybe I should send a larger share of my benevolence towards ARC.

You can definitely earmark portions of your contributions to go specifically to the ARC as opposed to the general ARI fund. (Diana and I just did.) After all, bribing Congressmen can get expensive! (Just a joke...)

Right now, the ARI's two primary needs are money and people. Money is an obvious need, and it would definitely be great if they could get to the CATO range (and beyond) in their annual funding.

The people issue will be helped in the next several years as more people graduate through the OAC (Objectivist Academic Center) and start writing, speaking, etc.

FWIW, some OAC students are going into academic philosophy but others are in various professions.

At OCON 2008, I met OAC students who were stock traders, ER physicians, etc., with "regular" careers, but who also had an interest in learning Objectivism at a serious level and who wanted to then apply that knowledge in work and activism. Some OAC graduates will therefore be regular people in normal professions doing what they can to write and speak, some will eventually work for the ARI/ARC itself as staff writers, some will go into academia (in philosophy, history, psychology, economics, etc.), and some may end up working for other independent but worthwhile advocacy organizations or become independent writers and public intellectuals.

To address an earlier point, the ARC will eventually be generating more written material such as articles, position papers, and books. Yaron Brook has said that the bad guys have been so influential because "they wrote and they wrote and they wrote". He fully recognizes that if Objectivism is to have any significant cultural influence, then Objectivists also need to be out there articulating their ideas as well.

But the "rate limiting step" right now (to use a chemistry metaphor) is a combination of money and manpower.

More importantly, if we want to win, then it won't be enough to just rely on the ARI to be the only people spreading good ideas.

There's clearly a hunger in our current society for alternatives to the tired old bromides of both liberalism and conservatism. Most Americans know that there's *something* wrong with the way the country is going, and at some level they also know that ping-ponging back and forth between the Republicans and Democrats isn't really going to solve the underlying problems. But they don't believe they have any other choices -- they're stuck in a false dichotomy between the Left and the Right.

Hence, if you are interested in articulating good ideas, you will find a ready audience. Two years of real-world experience have now convinced me of this fact. There are many ways that the rest of us can help support the ARI's efforts, simply be speaking out and supporting their ideas, drawing people's attention to their already-existing articles and OpEds, and otherwise letting people who that there *is* an alternative to the status quo.

When someone says, "Gee, what's the best way to guarantee health care for all Americans?", you can respond with, "Should that even be a goal?". When someone says, "What should be our highest priority now - new laws to help the environment or to help the poor?", you can say, "Neither -- both will kill what made America great". When someone says, "If we don't have religion as the basis of morality, then it means anything goes and we'll have social chaos and decadence", you can say, "Isn't it possible to base our ethics in objective facts about people without invoking religion?"

Currently, the most important thing that the ARI is trying to do is to let people know that there *is* a rational alternative to both the Right and the Left. They're working hard to do what they can with their current resources, and their efforts will continue to expand.

But we can provide crucial and much-needed help by seeding the ground at the local level and "softening the culture" for their formal work. That way, when normal people start reading more of their OpEds, articles, and books, those ideas won't seem quite so unfamiliar. They'll think, "Hmm, my cousin once mentioned something like that last month at dinner" or "That sounds like something that so-and-so told me about at work" or "Some guy wrote a letter to the editor about that last week in my local newspaper; it seemed kind of outlandish at the time, but maybe there's something to it."

So if you want to help the ARI (and make an investment in *your* own future quality of life), start speaking out! You can make a lot more difference than you realize.

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This reminds me of the religious Patrick Henry College. They pump these kids through with perfect GPAs, make them super-smart (granted, the kids are doing the work), and then the administration uses their political ties with Bush and Republicans to get these kids major political internships in Congress and the White House. From Wikipedia:

In the spring of 2004, of the almost 100 student interns working in the White House, seven were from Patrick Henry College, which had only 240 students at the time. This is the same number of interns Georgetown University had during the same period.

It would indeed be quite an accomplishment if OAC could do the same: work to get students with political futures into top positions in politics.

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  • 1 month later...
ARI needs more money to do that stuff. Which is a good reason to donate. Here is info on ARI's revenue. Here is info on CATO. CATO has almost four times the money.

Noth America is in a real state of intellectual crises. What I like is the hard, clear and direct drive by the ARI to promote Ayn Rand's ideas even more than ever. I have personally taken the responsibility to distribute THE UNDERCURRENT, an objectivist student newspaper to universities in my city of Toronto, Canada. In addition, I have written ARI, asking how I can begin fund-raising for ARI in my major, well, known, multi-national courier company. I will mail internal copies of letters to several managers, including the CEO's of Canada and America, asking them to consider supporting ARI. I will ask. Ted. .... and I won't stop there.

Edited by Ted
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I may pitch this idea to them and let them have it, but they need to convert the Facebook group into a fan page. Then they can send updates (that don't come as annoying messages) to users and work it as a fundraising tool, and to spread updates, etc.

Edited by Sir Andrew
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Something that strikes me about this thread is that most activist organizations that I've seen always have a big push for volunteers--volunteers to hand out leaflets, volunteers to hold picket signs, volunteers to collect signatures, etc.

If you think about it, that sort of thing would really be self-defeating for ARI. Drumming and grandstanding don't get people to think, they accomplish the opposite.

Sorry, it just struck me as interesting.

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Something that strikes me about this thread is that most activist organizations that I've seen always have a big push for volunteers--volunteers to hand out leaflets, volunteers to hold picket signs, volunteers to collect signatures, etc.

If you think about it, that sort of thing would really be self-defeating for ARI. Drumming and grandstanding don't get people to think, they accomplish the opposite.

Sorry, it just struck me as interesting.

Yes, but the philosophies behind those organizations (assuming there even are any) don't make people inclined to think.

Edited by Sir Andrew
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Andrew: I think it gets back to a point I saw raised on the Harry Binswanger List, where there was a discussion of the phrase 'Greed is Good' from the film Wall Street. It developed into a discussion of whether or not we actually want to use catchphrases to advertise Objectivism, the point being, that this is just typical of current pragmatic trends, and just encourages this kind of bad thinking. Whether or not we have a good philosophy, if the philosophy we use to educate people is poor, it won't encourage them to study our ideas, it will just encourage them to think, "Cool. Selfishness and free trade. Sounds good", and they go off and become anarcho-Libertarians, talking about how Ayn Rand had "a few good ideas" but was "wrong on many points".

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That's certainly true. Catch phrases aren't designed to get people to think, but just to stick in someone's mind. The problem with activist organizations that the the source of all the thinking (and the slogans on the picket signs and the petitions) is from the activist organization itself, so volunteers aren't thinking. They're merely disseminating what the higher-ups have said.

I'm thinking more of just presentation. Like the way there's the Atlas Shrugged site that gives an intro to the philosophy of Objectivism, while also being helpful to students reading the book. I'm not saying we have to rework the philosophy or make it "hip" or "cool", because part of what makes Ayn Rand so interesting is she's just as relevant today as she was 30 years ago.

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I'm not saying we have to rework the philosophy or make it "hip" or "cool", because part of what makes Ayn Rand so interesting is she's just as relevant today as she was 30 years ago.

Hey kids, it's Mac Daddy Brook and Bad-Ass Ghate -- they gonna lay down some slick axioms for y'all! Check out the rims on those!

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