Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

The Ayn Rand Center For Individual Rights

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

From The Center's new website (bold mine):

The Center is located in Washington, D.C. and promotes the philosophical case for individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the public policy and business communities, the media and the general public, and to policy-makers. Toward this end, the Center sponsors writing and research; produces articles, op-eds, and other media content; hosts forums, panel discussions, and debates; reaches out to businessmen, elected officials, and policymakers; and assists victims of governmental abuse in their efforts to defend themselves on moral grounds. The Center promotes the principle of individual rights as a fundamental truth that each individual has a moral right to act on his own judgment for his own sake, so long as he does not violate that same right of others. The use of the term “moral” here is not accidental. The Center sees this principle not only as a political matter, but also, and more fundamentally, as a moral matter, as a requirement of human life.

Elected officials? Policy makers? Why would people like Yaron Brook and Leonard Peikoff - who have for years been saying that to engage in any form of Objectivism-promoting activism beyond the intellectual kind is counter-productive and even dangerous - put their names behind this new wing of the ARI? Why put this center in Washington, DC? Isn't this tantamount to doing what David Kelly and his ilk have been doing for years now, albeit in a far more begrudged, drawn out, and subtle way? Is the leadership of the ARI finally taking Kelly's advice: talking to people who have (or are actively trying to attain) the power to wield force, in order to get them to wield it properly; regardless of any previous understanding or consent from the general public?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Elected officials? Policy makers? Why would people like Yaron Brook and Leonard Peikoff - who have for years been saying that to engage in any form of Objectivism-promoting activism beyond the intellectual kind is counter-productive and even dangerous - put their names behind this new wing of the ARI? Why put this center in Washington, DC?

Source for this claim? I think you've been listening too much to what David Kelly says other people are saying, or you've taken a statement out of context.

Isn't this tantamount to doing what David Kelly and his ilk have been doing for years now, albeit in a far more begrudged, drawn out, and subtle way? Is the leadership of the ARI finally taking Kelly's advice: talking to people who have (or are actively trying to attain) the power to wield force, in order to get them to wield it properly; regardless of any previous understanding or consent from the general public?

Hardly.

The devil is in the "how", not the "what". If by "talking to people" you mean sanctioning their ideas or spouting thinley veiled libertarianism, as Devid Kelley has done (see here and here) then, NO. David Kelly's advice is hardly being followed, nor is it needed, or wanted.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Source for this claim? I think you've been listening too much to what David Kelly says other people are saying, or you've taken a statement out of context.

From The Ayn Rand Institutue's website. "About ARI" Section, "Overview" page, Introduction (Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4):

ARI seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutions—high schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy—known as Objectivism—holds that historical trends are the inescapable product of philosophy. To reverse the current political and economic trends in America and throughout the world requires a reversal of our society’s fundamental philosophy. Victory in this war of ideas will ultimately mean the defeat of the widely held, pernicious ideologies that dominate contemporary culture and threaten our liberty—ideologies such as collectivism, moral relativism and multiculturalism.

ARI undertakes a two-pronged strategy:

Through its education programs, ARI finds, trains and supports individuals who thoroughly understand Ayn Rand’s ideas and can communicate and apply them professionally.

Through its outreach programs, ARI disseminates Ayn Rand’s books and ideas to the general public.

The terms "elected officials" and "policy makers" are both conspicuously absent.

Hardly.

The devil is in the "how", not the "what". If by "talking to people" you mean sanctioning their ideas or spouting thinley veiled libertarianism, as Devid Kelley has done (see here and here) then, NO. David Kelly's advice is hardly being followed, nor is it needed, or wanted.

Assembling a cabal of "elected officials" and "policy makers" to foist Objectivist political principles onto the public with the explanation "because I said so" is somehow less of a seperation of philosophical fundamentals from their resultant values than wrongly and desperately exclaiming that freedom of the press is a self-evident value that can "transcend religious and cultural differences"?

Not to imply that I have a decided opinion on such a tactic, but the ability of an ARCIR influenced policy maker to intimidate a politically-active Marxist through something like stepped-up police surveillance is not going to do anything to reshape and then integrate his ill-conceived reverence for reason into a consistent set of philosophical principles. It's certainly not going to do it for those quasi-Marxist, quasi-religious every day altruists who read about it in the newspaper.

And don't tell me the ARI is doing this because politicians have the spotlight and the mainstream's attention. That they can influence the moral atmosphere of the culture. David Kelley, before he (I agree) went off the deep end, was open to talking to libertarians, paleo-conservatives, and anyone else of noteriety else for that very same reason.

Just as Diana Hsieh, in the first blog post of hers you cited, explained that a culture founded upon anything other than reason and individualism will not tend to, but will produce nothing but superstition, duty and sacrifice, stagnation, violence, and oppression - so will an organization founded upon anything other than a commitment to fight the philosophical (and only the philosophical) war produce nothing but more and more Kelleyites.

At least, that's what the powers that be at ARI have been saying since 1989. Until recently, that is. When they created the ARCIR.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The terms "elected officials" and "policy makers" are both conspicuously absent.

Well, that's a strategy statement, and strategy statements change with strategies. I'm specifically interested in anything that you can provide that indicate as you did in your previoius that Objectivist intellectuals implied that political activism was not a strategy that should be adopted at some point? i.e. that it on principle was somewhere that one shouldnt' go? or couldn't go and remain true to the idea of a fight based upon philosophical ideas. Without that it can't really be a reversal of any position, can it?

David Kelley's problem is that he'll compromise his ideas (if he ever was really serious abou them) to get to people in power. ARC takes the approach of getting their ideas to the people in power, intact. A world of difference between the two, as Diana's posts suggest.

Not to imply that I have a decided opinion on such a tactic, but the ability of an ARCIR influenced policy maker to intimidate a politically-active Marxist through something like stepped-up police surveillance is not going to do anything to reshape and then integrate his ill-conceived reverence for reason into a consistent set of philosophical principles. It's certainly not going to do it for those quasi-Marxist, quasi-religious every day altruists who read about it in the newspaper.

I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

ARI has been doing activism around current politics and policies for years (so many speeches, Op-Eds, etc.). In fact, you can trace this segment of activity all the way back to Rand. The ARI have done this in addition to their more philosophical projects like the essay-contest, books-to-schools and OAC. So, I don't see any change of strategy at all. All I see is the ramping up of the segment of their activism that centers around politics.

I'm not sure what is objectionable about this. Also, it isn't clear whether you object to such activism, or whether you object the the fact that they did not ramp this up sooner. Which is it?

Edited by softwareNerd
Link to post
Share on other sites

KendallJ,

In regards to the part of my second post which you had no idea about, what I did there was to explain (through example) how the distinction you made directly above your quotation of it is false.

Yes, David Kelley will compromise his ideas in order to get into power. He's already tried it and fortunately failed. What I'm wondering is how the ARCIR's tactic of getting the right ideas to people in power does not compromise those ideas. Certainly the ideas themselves do not change, and the righteousness of any offical or policy maker working to implement them is without question, but so what? What would be the result of the government taking a radically hard line in favor of Objectivist political goals? How would the altruist-collectivist public react? I'll tell you: in the best case scenario it would be massive backlash at the polls. Those Objectivist politicians would be voted out of office before they could achieve anything.

This (from what I can tell small, but still real) part of the ARCIR's mission statement fundamentally conflicts with the rest of it. It burns the candle at both ends. It conflicts with all of the ARI's mission statement.

Also, you have misconstrued my statements regarding the value of political activism per se. I never claimed, nor implied, that "it on principle was somewhere that one shouldn't go." I merely reported upon Brook's and Peikoff's (collectively ARI's) well-documented position that any degree of political activism is only proper once a proportional amount of philosophical and cultural change has been achieved.

The ARI establishing a permanent physical office in the nation's capital in order to reach out to, and change on the deepest, most personal level possible, elected officials and policy makers within the Federal Government is a far more than a far cry from Diana Hsieh helping to defeat Colorado's Amendment 48. That was a state-level issue and her position already had widely-held (and, compared to other issues, far less irrationally grounded) support. The ARI has not yet succeeded in changing the culture - let alone the politics - of California, or New York, or any other state. In expanding to Washington, the leaders of ARI have not decided to focus on ad hoc issues in the hopes that an elected official, in a rare spark of objectivity, becomes convinced of the rightness of ARCIR's position long enough to cast the correct vote. That has never been the goal of such activities. Until now.

Now, (as least this part of) the ARCIR is specifically, permanently committed to going after the whole politician. To remake him from the ground up. But why? What good is he if he is going to be voted out of office (if not personally destroyed) by a morally outraged public?

That is exactly the criticism that has been levied against David Kelley and The Atlas Society for nearly twenty years.

softwareNerd,

I do not object to this segment of activity per se. I am undecided about this extremely complicated issue. I merely find it pitifully hypocritical and underhanded on the part of ARI's leadership. Their words say they're decided; they're actions say the opposite.

Also, as a footnote, I would like to point out that ARI op-eds, speeches about current events, et cetera are markedly different than what the ARCIR's mission statement described in regards to elected officials and policy makers. See my reply to KendallJ directly above for an elaboration.

Link to post
Share on other sites
KendallJ,

Yes, David Kelley will compromise his ideas in order to get into power. He's already tried it and fortunately failed. What I'm wondering is how the ARCIR's tactic of getting the right ideas to people in power does not compromise those ideas. Certainly the ideas themselves do not change, and the righteousness of any offical or policy maker working to implement them is without question, but so what? What would be the result of the government taking a radically hard line in favor of Objectivist political goals? How would the altruist-collectivist public react? I'll tell you: in the best case scenario it would be massive backlash at the polls. Those Objectivist politicians would be voted out of office before they could achieve anything.

This is really ridiculous. There's no compromise involved in making politicians an audience for rational ideas. Quite the contrary: people in power are the ones who need rational ideas the most. The Objectivist complaint over the years has been about those who would try to *substitute* direct political activism (e.g., running for office or fielding candidates) for intellectual activism. The current ARI project is far from such a substitute. It is also intellectual activism, but applied to a special audience, one that is likely to make ARI's message more widely heard. The media market is centered in Washington. ARI will get more interviews and more interviews when it is closer to this market.

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is really ridiculous. There's no compromise involved in making politicians an audience for rational ideas. Quite the contrary: people in power are the ones who need rational ideas the most. The Objectivist complaint over the years has been about those who would try to *substitute* direct political activism (e.g., running for office or fielding candidates) for intellectual activism. The current ARI project is far from such a substitute. It is also intellectual activism, but applied to a special audience, one that is likely to make ARI's message more widely heard. The media market is centered in Washington. ARI will get more interviews and more interviews when it is closer to this market.

They're doing exactly the same thing the Kelleyites do, it's just one step removed. I'll repeat: what good is a government run entirely by Objectivists when the culture is still altruist-collectivist? How, exactly, is getting a politician who is already in power to become an Objectivist any different than getting a politician who is trying to get into office to become an Objectivist? And besides, given his *necessary* aversion to principled (even rationalistically held principles) which got him into office, wouldn't it be easier to grow your own candidates?

These are honest questions. I want to know. But there is a double-standard here, and a false distinction that relies upon a non-essential and treats it as an essential. Yes, unlike David Kelly, the ARCIR will be philosophically consistent and if they do convert a politician it will be for real... but again, so what? He won't be able to stand up against the culture. Not any more than a libertarian power-seeker, converted to Objectivism by Kelley, will be able to stand up to the politicians (who, in that context, would serve as the cultural resistance).

It's a tactical issue. Do you attempt to replace or to change the people in government? But either way, both groups (ARCIR and TAS) are ignoring (and to the extent they're doing this stuff, neglecting) the public.

Maybe getting an Objectivist government - the top down approach - will work to change the culture. To employ a sort of "tough love" on the people and to use the media. I don't know. But I do know that both approaches - whatever their minor differences - are top down approaches.

Link to post
Share on other sites
They're doing exactly the same thing the Kelleyites do, it's just one step removed.

Yes, they are doing the "exact same thing," if by "same thing" you mean having an office in a particular city. So what? That means they now have a wider audience. Incidentally, it's not like they've abandoned all of their other cultural/educational activities, which Kelley has never engaged in.

I'll repeat: what good is a government run entirely by Objectivists when the culture is still altruist-collectivist?

I have no idea where you're getting the idea that this is their goal. Nobody thinks that politicians can be converted without changing the wider culture. Like I said, the main advantage to having an office in Washington is that it is the headquarters of the national media, which gives ARI a more direct channel to the very national audience you're concerned about. I notice you didn't address this part of my post. But it's not like politicians have *no* minds of their own. They can be influenced for the better--albeit within limits. And what would be wrong with that? Small shifts in Washington opinion, however small, could still make a big difference, since they're happening in Washington.

How, exactly, is getting a politician who is already in power to become an Objectivist any different than getting a politician who is trying to get into office to become an Objectivist? And besides, given his *necessary* aversion to principled (even rationalistically held principles) which got him into office, wouldn't it be easier to grow your own candidates?

Who thinks we're going to turn any politicians into Objectivists? Why does that have to happen for it to be worthwhile to influence them? And, once again, the media market.

These are honest questions. I want to know. But there is a double-standard here, and a false distinction that relies upon a non-essential and treats it as an essential. Yes, unlike David Kelly, the ARCIR will be philosophically consistent and if they do convert a politician it will be for real... but again, so what? He won't be able to stand up against the culture. Not any more than a libertarian power-seeker, converted to Objectivism by Kelley, will be able to stand up to the politicians (who, in that context, would serve as the cultural resistance).

1. You don't need to convert a politician completely to make a difference. 2. The effort is not primarily about converting politicians or even changing their minds. Media market.

You should look for some actual textual evidence from ARI writings expressing the idea that it is wrong to influence politicians, or wrong to set up an office in Washington. So far, all you've provided is statements about their mission involving cultural change--which is not necessarily inconsistent with setting up an office in Washington. Did you ever see anyone from ARI criticizing Kelley for setting up an office in Washington--because it was an office in Washington? No, the critiques concern the kind of things they say and do in their office, not their intended audience.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the kind of media market access I'm talking about:

Dear ARC Subscriber:

RadioAmerica’s G. GORDON LIDDY is devoting a SPECIAL BROADCAST of his nationally syndicated three-hour talk radio show to Ayn Rand, her philosophy, and understanding the current state of events through the lens of Objectivism.

The broadcast will air live on Monday, November 17, 2008, beginning at 10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time.

The Ayn Rand Center’s Yaron Brook, Onkar Ghate, Elan Journo, Thomas Bowden and Eric Daniels will be the exclusive guests for this extended broadcast. They will discuss the financial crisis, Bush’s claimed defense of capitalism, today’s challenges to free speech, and the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other topics.

The broadcast will air on 200 radio stations across the country as well as on XM satellite radio (on a delayed basis). Live streaming audio will be available on http://www.radioamerica.org/ or at http://www.radioamerica.org/PRG_ggordonliddy.htm.

G. Gordon Liddy encourages call-in questions from listeners across the country.

Lo and behold:

G. GORDON LIDDY SHOW

Radio America

1100 N. Glebe Rd

Suite 900

Arlington, VA 22201

http://liddyshow.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=1

Link to post
Share on other sites

...And as luck would have it, we don't get that here.

A fantastic coup for ARC. (Hats off to them!)

Liddy is a very intelligent, logical, clear thinking individual with a rather quirky sense of humor. In some few respects he verges on Libertarian positions (as do we--the important difference being in *why*) but he also, if I am not mistaken, is Catholic. Definitely not an anarchist. This would be an interesting one to listen to, it will be interesting to see where he disagrees and why.

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...