Rebirth of Reason


SOLO In Review, Part 3: Pyramid Of Activism
by Joseph Rowlands

"We seek nothing less than to change the world."  - SOLO Credo

We wanted SOLO to be more than just another website or forum.  We wanted to move away from the model of aimless discussions, incessant bickering, and winning arguments as the primary objective, as some forums seemed to be. The goal was to create an organization that worked towards a better world. The organization would be designed around meeting that goal.

The first question to answer is, what would be the means to accomplishing our goals?  What kind of activism would SOLO pursue?  There are some people who believe academia needs to be infiltrated. There are others who think op-eds are the way to go.  Some think there should be more books.  Some think there should be movies or TV shows.  There's an infinite number of ways an organization can pursue this goal. Which would we choose?

We came to the conclusion that they're all good.  SOLO wouldn't be about any particular type of activism exclusively. It would encourage and facilitate activism of any kind. We wanted to create a place for activists in general to come together, cooperate, and accomplish their goals. If there are activists out there looking for help on their projects, SOLO is a place where they can go.

The idea here is that to make a significant change to the world, we're not going to do it with a handful of people.  The more people we get involved, the better our chances for making an impact. So we wanted to gear SOLO towards actively encouraging activism. We created on online website, SOLOHQ, based on the idea of a Pyramid of Activism.

The Pyramid of Activism is a pretty simple idea.  At the base of the pyramid you have a large number of people, but the level of activism is low. Think of the way so many people contribute to online forums, but rarely do much else.  Or they improve their own life and occasionally recommend Ayn Rand to someone they know. Both of these are important jobs, but the time and energy commitment is minimal.

At a higher level of activism, you have a range of different jobs.  On SOLO, we have the interest group leaders who design their front pages, and try to bring up topics for the groups. There are often forum moderators as well, who try to settle disputes, keep out the trolls, and generally be responsible for a smoothly functioning forum.  There are webmasters who keep the site running and handle technical problems.

At a higher level, you would have local club leaders who organize events and try to grow their audience. They have to come up with interesting topics, try to keep a schedule, make sure their audience is happy, etc. 

You also have people who write articles, a task that can be gruelling at best of times.

At  the top of the pyramid, you have people who create new products, write books, run organizations, give speeches, develop new philosophical insights, etc.  These jobs take serious time commitments, and the people who accomplish them are very dedicated to their goals.

There will obviously be some difference of opinion on what levels of activism are more important or difficult, but the point here is to describe this basic idea.  At the lowest levels of activism you generally have a lot of people, and the effort is usually not too painful.  As you go up the pyramid, you get fewer people, but their contributions increase.  An important point is that their contributions tend to actually increase, not just change.  People continue to post on the forums, continue to encourage people to read Rand's novels, etc.  They just take on new responsibilities.  At the top, you have a few people who are very busy.

To help facilitate activism in general, it would be good to move as many people as we can from the bottom of the pyramid to higher levers. SOLO has been working on this for years now. The online forum is a way to get people started with activism, bring them in at the lowest level. We then encourage people to write articles, run interest groups, give speeches, contribute on various products, and more.

This model makes SOLO very dependent on participation from people outside of the staff. The advantage is that we created the organization to be open to people. If someone wants to get involved in the Objectivist movement, we've created a place where they can do it.
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