Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The Culture: Logan's Run

Logan Darrow Clements has grievances:

Nicolas (sic):

I'd like to respond to your criticism of my candidacy and I hope you'll be honorable enough to print it.

First of all I am an Objectivist not a Libertarian. Calling me a Libertarian is a lazy and inappropriate ad hominem. Each time you use the expression as a jab. Truth be told, all Objectivists are libertarian in the realm of politics but Objectivists and libertarians have tremendous differences. I am just as upset with the people who wear only the title "libertarian" as you are so please don't refer to me as a libertarian. I am an Objectivist.

Second, I fully expected the sort of article you wrote the moment I decided to run for Governor. I could have written it myself and let you put your name on it. The error you made was in your premise that I was running to become Governor. In fact I ran for Governor primarily to spread Objectivist ideas in the mass media and to promote my Objectivist television show. In other words I was executing the Objectivist game plan of trying to change the underlying thinking of the culture before trying to cash in on the politics. It just so happened that my educational project happened to be a run for Governor. Surely you are smarter than to think I was running with an expectation of winning.

Third, "an exercise in futility" is your main criticism but this criticism could be leveled against you or any Objectivist as we are so greatly outnumbered in such an irrational culture. Isn't your website an exercise in futility? You have to start somewhere despite the enormity of the task. Again I remind you my campaign was about spreading Objectivist ideas not winning an election. Therefore votes are irrelevant. My campaign was a success because of the many interviews I gave on television, radio and in print. I may also appear in several independent films made about the California Recall distilling Objectivist ideas.

Now on to my television show FreeNation and your criticism of my use of the drug raid as the opening segment. Again you are making an error not me. The error you are making is that the purpose of my show is to promote Objectivism. Wrong. The #1 goal of my show is to maximize profits. To maximize profits I need to draw the largest audience possible. To draw the largest audience possible I need the most dramatic video combined with the most shocking and compelling stories. The #2 goal is to advance Objectivist ideas. Without success at goal #1 then goal #2 will be impossible. Choosing topics based on drawing a large audience will yield a different set of stories than choosing topics based on promulgating a philosophy. In fact I myself often criticize libertarians for focusing too much on drug legalization. If I found compelling video footage relating to the topics that top my list of grievances I would have run that instead. If you come across good footage relating to the topics that you would put at the top of your list for my show then please send it to me.

Also, you didn't watch the episode very carefully. It was not primarily focused on "the drug war" but in fact it was about individual sovereignty. I focused on the issue in this segment and the FDA segment of "should a person be prohibited from putting something into their own body." Watch it again. Also your readers should know that there are four segments in my demo episode. The other three deal with: licensing laws, social security, and the FDA.

Before you published this article you sent me an e-mail where you made the same points you do in your article. I answered your mistakes in my reply. So why did you "blank out", as Ayn Rand would say, ignore what I said and publish your article, chock full of mistakes anyway? Isn't that what we accuse everyone else of doing. You still could have criticized my run for Governor but done it in a more knowledgeable way having incorporated input from the subject of the story—me.

Finally, your last sentence about "navigating through his errors in philosophy" is ridiculously condescending, spoken as if you are the high lord of Objectivism. You made six errors in that one article and I made zero errors in my activism. I get tired of the "holier than thou" attitude. I’m just as much an Objectivist as you and perhaps more. If you doubt that I'm an Objectivist I challenge you to find substantial issues where my viewpoint diverges from Objectivism. Keep in mind I may apply the same test to you. Judge and prepare to be judged.

However, despite the fact that your article is completely wrong, lousy journalism and shamelessly misrepresents me, I applaud the activism you undertake with CMDC (sic). Let's break the old habits of bitter Objectivist in-fighting and unite to help Objectivist ideas win and laissez-faire capitalism be realized. One dumb article is less important than achieving the incredible potential that freedom has to offer.

Logan Darrow Clements
Executive Producer, FreeNation TV
former candidate for Governor of California

P.S. You also got my name wrong. It's Logan Darrow Clements. That's 7 errors.
Seven errors. Sounds like a new record. Here’s a recap:

1.) I called Mr. Clements a Libertarian and not an Objectivist, and that’s unfair.
2.) Since Mr. Clements himself held zero expectation of winning the California governor’s race, it was unfair of me to think of him as a serious candidate. He just was trying to represent Objectivism and promote his TV show to the public.
3.) Mr. Clements’s candidacy was no more an exercise in futility than any other Objectivist-themed activism.
4.) Since the basis of Mr. Clements’s TV show is to make money, and not to promote Objectivism, my criticism is of his pilot is negated.
5.) Since the pilot of Mr. Clements’s TV show was focused on individual sovereignty, my criticism of the drug war segment is negated.
6.) By claming that Mr. Clements’s errors are philosophical, I am acting as “the high lord of Objectivism”.
7.) It's Logan Darrow Clements, not Darrow Clements.

Sigh. Well, here it goes:

1, 2 & 3.) My thesis was that by entering a race where, by definition, he had zero chance of winning, Clements made the classic libertarian error—he placed political activism before political philosophy. That’s no ad hominem—that’s an argument from fact. And I don’t buy for a second that Clements only wanted to run a protest candidacy or aimed to simply promote his TV show. However laughable, Clements outlined a whole strategy for his victory here, pleading that his plan was not “unrealistic but in fact quite possible.” Was he lying then, or now?

Ultimately, Clements did not evidence his ideas to be compelling or efficacious—he instead showed that despite all his alleged principles, he was willing to degrade himself by participating as a clown act in a three-ring circus, to little or no long-term effect. That’s what you get when you place activism before philosophy.

But what if Clements aimed low and had decided to run for a local position, like one, for example, that decides local zoning issues? What if Clements invested the time needed to be expertly informed on the issue and offered credible solutions to government zoning abuse, even if only to introduce incremental reform? Then I would have saluted his candidacy, for it would have had practical value—and served as a stepping stone to offices of greater responsibility.

Or, if Clements truly wanted to participate in the recall process, he could have chosen to represent a single issue, like government regulatory reform, as an election watchdog. He could have, for example, highlighted all the regulations that contributed to the California power crisis. Then I would have saluted his advocacy, for again, it would have had practical value.

It is not enough to stand as a lone voice in the wilderness. Truth be told, there are a lot of lone voices and few amount to much. If one is going to stand in the face of great public opposition, it matters dearly what one says, how they say it, and who they say it to. Clements lost out on all three points.

4 & 5) It is with frustration that I criticize Clements' TV show. As I said in my original post, I think it has potential, if he is able to address its shortcomings. Yet given what he seeks to accomplish, Clements does not understand where people make the errors in thought that lead to government encroachment of individual rights. As is, the theme of his show focuses on lawbreaking. If Clements is able to get footage from Cuba or North Korea, it will make for compelling drama. But in a nation where freedom of speech is protected and legislatures and courts exist to redress grievances, lawbreaking is impractical. How can one say that reason and persuasion ought to guide human behavior when one abandons it when facing injustice?

There is a way to tackle the drug war question that does not hold the irrational as a value, and yet shows the illogic of the drug war. That would demand taping footage of people going though withdrawal while incarcerated for drug offenses and not receiving medical treatment. Show someone who committed no violent offence jonesing off heroin in a jail cell, and point out that the drug laws put him there, instead of a treatment facility, where at least he would have a chance at breaking his habit. That would present supporters of the drug war with quite a conflict.

I think there is potential for Clements’ TV show if Clements can learn to be more sensitive to his audience and more thoughtfully present his case. I grew up watching “Fight Back!” with David Horowitz and I see some parallels. But as of yet. . .

6.) I do think Clements errors are philosophical, and one does not need to be a high lord to say so. And it’s ridiculous of Clements to argue that because his show aims to be profitable, he has no choice to offer segments like the one on the drug war. Objectivism is not something that floats in the ozone that we all must pay homage to; it’s a practical tool for use in everyday life. And that tool tells me it is foolish to show footage of someone smoking pot as a great expression of individualism, unless, of course, one sees no distinction between individualism and whim-worship. No one will be convinced of anything and the show will lose money—its premise will be rejected outright.

7.) The name thing. Well, it’s D. Logan Darrow Clements here and here, Darrow Clements here, Logan Clements here, and who the hell knows what it really is. But it has always been “Nicholas” here, there and everywhere, so before you bust on me brother, you had better get your own ducks in a row.

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