Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Culture: So where do you advance Objectivism?

An anonymous Objectivist scholar has been bloging on the apparent collapse of David Kelley's "Objectivist Center." TOC is a quintessential libertarian organization in that it is an organization without either a worthwhile intellectual base or a practical focus. I have ignored it accordingly. While I agree with the post on the substantive points about TOC, I was struck by his comments that TOC's efforts are likely run out of "some guy's apartment in Alexandria." That's hardly damming in my mind. After all, I run the Center out of my Alexandria apartment. But the comment, however directed, irritated me enough to get me thinking.

In her 1962 Ford Hall Forum talk, "America's Persecuted: Big Business," Ayn Rand called for a civil liberties group for businessmen. The founding vision of the Center is for it to be just such a group. Dare I brag, our activities have pioneered now ground in the advancement of Objectivism (after all, there have been three Objectivists that have appeared on national broadcast TV--Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, and me). But given our resources, I run the Center out of my Alexandria apartment. I do so because the Center does not enjoy the financial support to allow it to pay for commercial office space.

Does that diminish the value of the Center's accomplishments? In the past year, the Center has filed briefs with the US Supreme Court defending equal treatment under the law (Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger), the rights of businessmen to full protection of their speech (Nike v. Kasky), and attacking government-created monopolies (United States Postal Service v. Flamingo)? The Center has issued a continuous stream of comment letters defending the victims of antitrust prosecution. Objectivist arguments will win in political and legal debates once they are engaged by our opponents. Of course, this requires our opponents hear our arguments in the first place, particularly given that these people currently control the political and legal forums in which these debates occur. The Center has fought for capitalism where no Objectivists have before--in the corridors of power that squelch our freedom and potential for prosperity and with the very people that suffer accordingly.

I wish I had all the funding I needed to fully advance the Center's goals. I want nothing more then to one day lay the cornerstone for what I envision would be both an office and Objectivist community center here in Washington. But in the meantime, I am proud of the record accomplishments of the organization I lead, however humble our digs.

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