Selective Quotation, Damage, and Regrets

 Posted by on 29 March 2004 at 10:33 am  Uncategorized
Mar 292004

Jimmy Wales recently said the following on the Atlantis mailing list: “I think Diana is essentially right about everything.” Wow, what an endorsement! If I was a movie, I’d definitely put that on my poster. (Actually, Jimmy was referring to Compare and Contrast post about ARI versus TOC op-eds below. But that’s just a minor detail.)

I am surprised at the lack of comments on that post, although I know that many good and honest people who still support TOC in some fashion largely agree with my criticisms of TOC’s cultural activism. So perhaps they have little to say at present. I hope they soon realize that such insipid, weak, misleading, and outright wrong op-eds are not merely an ineffective waste of funds, but actively harmful to the goal of wider recognition of Objectivist ideas in the culture. I hope they soon realize that after five pathetic years of TOC’s focus on cultural activism, the damage must be apparent to someone as smart and knowledgeable as David Kelley. I hope they soon realize that no improvement is possible given the subjectivism implicit in the founding philosophy of TOC.

If I were David Kelley, I’d rather shut down the organization than publish another op-ed like The Human Spirit of Christmas. Instead, he mails out copies of that op-ed to sponsors as proof of TOC’s good works. Thus TOC continues along its chosen path. It’s deplorable, but not surprising.

At present, my only real regret about leaving TOC is that I will no longer be able to hang out with friends at the Summer Seminar. Since I can keep up contact in other ways, that is an insignificant price to pay for my freedom and independence from such an organization.

Of course, I have other kinds of regrets, like that I spent many years at IOS/TOC largely coasting on my background knowledge of Objectivism, that I absorbed certain common erroneous interpretations of Objectivism, that I partially adopted the standard causal and unserious attitude towards Objectivism, that I pretty much uncritically accepted the Brandens’ accounts of Ayn Rand’s actions and person, that I cut myself off from contact with various smart and friendly ARI-affiliated scholars, that I supported the organization morally and financially, that I recommended TOC to others, and so on. But those aren’t actually regrets about leaving TOC, but instead regrets about the length and depth of my stay.

Given my deeply moral objections to the underlying philosophy and actions of The Objectivist Center, my departure was obligatory. Since the moral is the practical, that decision has already benfitted me in a number of ways. And since reason and emotion are harmonious, I am glad to be gone.

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