A message for Objectivists:
We Objectivists often lament the sorry state of the culture. Too often, faith and emotion are lauded as superior to reason, the individual is merely a means to some collective, service to others is deemed more noble than personal happiness, and rights are nearly forgotten in politics. Yet we’re also inspired by the unexpected inroads forged by the Ayn Rand Institute over the past few years, particularly by the wild success of their program offering “Free Books for Teachers.”
However, the Ayn Rand Institute cannot change the culture on its own, not even with our financial and moral support. It’s just too big a task for a few dozen professional intellectuals. Objectivists must effectively advocate their values in the forums open to them, if they want to see substantial and enduring change in the values of the culture.
Thanks to Lin Zinser’s FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine), I’m now convinced that so much more is possible than most people imagine when like-minded people join forces in a loose, ad hoc way. In those ongoing efforts, FIRM’s “Activists” mailing list for people committed to promoting freedom and individual rights in medicine in Colorado has been of surprising value. It enables us to quickly and easily alert each other to opportunities to advocate good ideas, to discuss effective methods of argument, to praise and encourage the work well done, to report on our own accomplishments, to marvel at our impact on the debate, to inform others of useful sources of information, to brainstorm about venues for advocacy, to announce upcoming events, and more.
I’ve realized that a mailing list modeled on similar lines — but specifically for Objectivists committed to fostering positive cultural change — could be of similar value. So I’ve created OActivists @ OList.com. Here’s the basic list description, including the requirements that all subscribers must satisfy:
OActivists is an informal private mailing list for Objectivists committed to fostering positive cultural change by effective advocacy of Objectivist ideas. Its basic purpose is to facilitate communication about matters of mutual interest to Objectivist activists, such as opportunities for advocacy, methods of persuasive argumentation, announcements of upcoming events, useful sources of information on issues, examples of advocacy, and the like.
To join the list, you must be an Objectivist, meaning that you agree with and live by the principles of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. You should support the mission and activities of the Ayn Rand Institute. You must also be committed to engaging in intellectual activism to promote Objectivist ideas in online or print forums on a semi-regular basis. (Notably, arguing with other Objectivists does not qualify as intellectual activism!)
If you meet those criteria, please subscribe via the web interface. If you have any questions about the list — including whether you qualify — please e-mail me, the list’s owner and administrator, at [email protected]. Subscribers will be expected to respect the purpose of the list. Those who prove themselves disruptive to its basic aims will be removed.
To give people time to subscribe, the list will not open for discussion until Tuesday, February 26th.
Finally: OActivists is not an Objectivist discussion list. Objectivists (including myself) have wasted far too much time and energy arguing amongst ourselves about minutia in far-off corners of the internet. We can do better. We can defend our values from attack in debates that matter. We can refute the standard strawmen of our philosophy. We can introduce people to rational, principled philosophic ideas. We can do all that more effectively if we communicate. That communication is what OActivists aims to make easy.
Update #1: OActivists has 55 members in just 24 hours. Excellent!
Update #2: Now it’s 72 members in 48 hours. Even better!