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Adding Functionalities To Help Organize Local Clubs?

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Old Toad

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You limit membership in SPON to people who subscribe to the view “that, for our local network, the issue is not that the members want to socialize only with other Objectivists in all aspects of their lives, but that they want some one place where they can go at least quarterly and be assured that they will meet Objectivists -- and not anarchists, leftists, conservatives, moral-tolerationists, religionists, and other opponents of Objectivism,” and then you use that selective experience to write: “I have seen no such evidence that Objectivists in our local network -- who want to meet only Objectivists at Objectivist socials -- would be satisfied by meeting non-Objectivists.” (Original emphasis.) Of course this says nothing about possibilities, but only that a subset of people selected according to your criteria of rejecting other possibilities meet your selective criteria.

So unless SPON members are otherwise social hermits, they are regularly and voluntary socializing with non-Objectivists (“gravel”) in virtually all aspects of their lives, from which they are presumably obtaining pleasure. Then, on just a few days a year, they must seek refuge?

I wonder if we are having a miscommunication, a miscommunication based perhaps on my not spelling out what I thought was obvious.

I see three groups under consideration (for my purposes):

- Objectivsts, people I would like to invite to socials designed for the specific purpose of spending some time with explicitly like-minded people.

- Enemies of Objectivism who are, for their own bizarre reasons, drawn to socializing with and disrupting Objectivist gatherings -- "anarchists, leftists, conservatives, moral-tolerationists, religionists, and other opponents of Objectivism," as I said before.

- Just good, moral, implicitly objective people who are non-Objectivists but neither active enemies of Objectivism nor like-minded in terms of explicit philosophy.

Our local group is open to the first, absolutely closed to the second, and simply not interested in the third for the specific purposes of Objectivist socials.

All those individuals who attend our very selective socials also have their own wide social networks of friends who are "just good people" and worthy of friendship, but are neither explicitly like-minded Objectivists nor enemies of Objectivism (as are anarchists, libertarians and moral tolerationists, for example).

To make this more concrete: Some of my friends are Objectivists. My two closest friends are not Objectivists, but neither have they ever attacked Objectivism or tried to undermine it -- as the enemies of Objectivism do.

Would the following terminology be clearer?

- Objectivists, gold nuggets (for the specified purpose).

- Anti-Objectivists, gravel (for any purpose).

- Non-Objectivists but implicitly moral, silver nuggets (for the purpose of general friendship).

So, to summarize several posts, but now using the more specific terminology: The SPON network invites Objectivists and excludes Anti-Objectivists and Non-Objectivists for our specifically Objectivist socials.

Now, a question to you: Do you welcome all three groups -- Objectivists, Non-Objectivists, and Anti-Objectivists? If not, how have you in fact excluded the third group, that is, if you have excluded anyone at all? Have you had any Anti-Objectivists show up for your social?

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I emailed ARI, asking if there was some way for ARI supporters to be put in touch with each other, and was told that they no longer played that role. I have since been told by one long-term employee that the reason is mainly that ARI has no way to monitor the quality of the group. Is it really Objectivist -- or is it pseudo-Objectivist?

I understand their concern. Some years back I started going to a group that claimed to be Objectivists loyal to ARI.

At my second meeting, the leader of the group played a tape advocating TAX INCREASES as a way of eliminating the budget deficit. Then he said that Objectivists should have joined in the looting during the riots which followed the acquittal of the policemen in the beating of Rodney King.

Needless to say, I never returned to that group.

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I wonder if we are having a miscommunication, ...

Now, a question to you: Do you welcome all three groups -- Objectivists, Non-Objectivists, and Anti-Objectivists? If not, how have you in fact excluded the third group, that is, if you have excluded anyone at all? Have you had any Anti-Objectivists show up for your social?

Hi BurgessLau,

You said from the beginning that definitions would be important, and I agree. But I am not sure that the definitions you now provide are adequately clear. For example, is it possible for a "conservative" to be "implicitly objective"?

In response to your questions to me about our local efforts to build a society, I initially note that some of our participants are interested in "evangelism" for Objectivism, so the participation of some "others" is OK to them for that reason. We also have some who are interested in the debate of philosophical issues, even with non-Objectivists, to test their own reasoning and debate skills.

I have not yet used any express filtering other than interest in the stated subject matter of the socials. As a consequence, I estimate that attendance at our first 16 biweekly socials, most of which have about 30-50 people, has been about in the proportions of the hypothetical question I previously proposed to you, that is, about 10% interested in "philosophy for Ragnar," about 30% interested in "philosophy for Rearden," about 10% “significant others” (spouses, etc.), about 20% children, and about 30% non-Objectivists of various types, including “Antis,” “good moral, implicitly objective people,” and, in case it might be considered a separate category, those who are sincerely interested in learning more about Objectivism coming from any of various backgrounds.

However, I think our socials do have some “self-filtering” on a more informal and individual basis.

First, we go to great lengths to host socials at a venue that allows people to move about and mingle freely. In particular, we open up at least five separate but flowing “meeting” areas within the venue (our ranch), including three separate but adjoining living areas, dining area, and kitchen area, plus, weather permitting, a covered patio and pool deck. This means that with sufficient participation people can find others of particular interest, and can even avoid others of particular disinterest.

Second, Objectivists make up what I would characterize as the “core” of the socials, even if accounting for only about 40% of all the attendees at any given meeting (and remember, another 30% are spouses and children of Objectivists, who generally socialize on subjects other than philosophical discussion). By “core” I mean that there is no other subgroup of participants defined by any other philosophy or any other common interests that has any coherence or continuity in the socials. Accordingly, most of the “others” tend to fall away of their own accord after a meeting or two. I suppose in those cases, our “evangelists” are unsuccessful in that pursuit – but arguably successful in contributing to informal filtering.

We have not yet experienced any “trolls” at our socials (the likes of which we sometimes encounter online), but any such would be ejected.

Edited by Old Toad
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