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Post 20

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 8:00pmSanction this postReply
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Not try to take sides, but I do think that the broader the distribution, the more effective the campaign. More particularly, would hope that the effort gets some national press, but that's more likely to come if the distribution is broad.Maybe someone should sent a copy to the editor of the Washington Post too!

jt



Post 21

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 8:46pmSanction this postReply
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Jay:

I agree with you that the broader the reach, the more impact the message will have on the politicians. Having said that, I was so taken with the idea of a box of books showing up - especially early in the campaign, before a lot of other books arrive, that I went ahead and ordered 25 to be shipped to the White House.

> Maybe someone should sent a copy to the editor of the Washington Post too!

This is another fantastic idea that I didn't think of in this way. Near the end of the campaign I was going to contact the press, but why wait? If we send copies of the book to prominent people in the press, along with a letter that describes the what we are doing and what we hope to communicate as a result of this action, we could get some reporters interested in covering the story throughout the month. I have five extra copies of the book and I think I will send them to editors of major papers. If people would send a copy to their local papers, this would help generate local coverage. Mention the Tea Parties in you area and see if you can get them to cover that as well.

Regards,
--
Jeff



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Post 22

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 9:03pmSanction this postReply
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I've just now read this thread and applaud the intent. I have never told this to anyone and I have no hidden message that I want to convey.

When I lived in Canada and in the midst of controversy about expanded socialized medicine in the late 70's I bought 100 copies of AS at a bulk discount from a local book store. I wrapped each one in brown paper with no address and made the rounds of doctors, dentists and whatever other medical practitioners I could find and just entered their offices, dropped a copy on a table in the waiting area and left. The intention as that they might possibly alter their opinion of the proposed system as there was little or no opposition to the inroads of the government. I wrote my telephone number on the last page of the book.

I had one (1) telephone call from a doctor who had read it and wanted to know if I was part of an organization. I suppose there still might be copies of AS there in used book stores with my old telephone number in them.

Several months ago I sent a copy of Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" to our local mayor in the midst of proposed high-end real estate transfer tax which was to be used for low income housing. He didn't realize that this was wealth transfer. Some of his statements revealed that he had never read a book on economics and didn't know that Marx's philosophy was "to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability." I inscribed on the fly leaf, "If you are going to make bad legislation, please do it from a position of knowledge" and signed my name. About a month later I got a letter from the mayor's office saying that it had been donated to the local library. I have no idea if he read it. (The tax was defeated with the help of realtors and our local Friends of Capitalism group that meets once month.)

Subsequently, a new "meetup" group called Revolutionary Readings was formed to discuss libertarian type books. The leader had gotten my copy of Hazlitt's book from the library, phoned me and asked me if I wanted to join. (It's an excellent group)

Sam




Post 23

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 9:19pmSanction this postReply
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You are an example to us all, Sam.
I happen to be a bit discouraged about some things related to RoR tonight, and reading this post and recalling that it was your post that I first encountered when I came to RoR--that wonderful foreign journalist's article about how people here rallied after 9/11. And here you are, raising my spirits again.
Kiss.




Post 24

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 9:21pmSanction this postReply
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I have to applaud the initiative on Jeffery Small's part, but also have to wonder if this is the best materiel or target for such a P.R. campaign.

If members of the House or Senate (federal or state) won't read thousand-plus-page bills that they want to impose on us, they're unlikely to read thousand-plus-page novels.

Their pronounced lack of intellectual curiosity and analytical depth, in general, goes against any notion that they read very much, period. Beyond, that is, summations of proposed bills by their staff or by lobbyists.

More than 99 out of every 100 such copies will be donated to libraries or taken home by staffers. (Or, especially with Congress, thrown away. Nearly all packages and even much physical mail has been discarded unread since the 2001 anthrax "attacks," which I've felt were ginned up in part to provide an excuse for unresponsiveness.)

Atlas is much too massive for propagandizing, anyway. Some short, rhetorically well-turned summary has long been necessary of Anthem length, no more. Yet nobody's been able to come up with it yet.

The continuum between op-eds and letters-to-editors, on one hand, and Rand's novels, on the other, is thinly populated. Rand and Branden once dotted the gap with their own publications. Little has been done to create successors.



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Post 25

Friday, March 27, 2009 - 9:59pmSanction this postReply
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You're missing the point, Steve.
I am not affiliated with Jeff's project, this is my opinion, including what I've gotten from the go-galt site, but the point is not to have Obama or our Congressmen read AS. They have already read it, or, they have heard a lot about it. The point is to say, "I am serious about these ideas, and I want you to act on them." At this point in time, references to Rand and AS mean opposition to the stimulus package and other forms of government interference in commerce. Everyone in government already has that in mind. Then comes the book itself. No longer an abstraction, Objectivists and Objectivism are in the building!

Actually sending the book is a much stronger statement than a letter. It is material, concrete. It has the impact of the wetness of rain. Here is the book. It is in your hands. This is how to represent me. This is how I demand you think and act, to represent me. No excuses about what I mean or how to do it. Here. Do this. Do it now.
That sort of concreteness has especial impact on people of a concrete mentality.

Then there is the press's attention to be gotten. The piles of books do that much more certainly than reams of letters do, as Jeff explained.

So, it isn't a substitute for cogent statements of political rights and wrongs. Also, it fits with the Tea Parties and, with the now familiar idea of "going Galt." It adds to a tide of action, and actions are much more attractive of media attention. Surely no one questions that this is an unusual moment for Objectivism. This is a way to add to it. I don't see how anyone can fail to act in this moment, however they judge it best to express themselves in action.




Post 26

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:44amSanction this postReply
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"[...] That sort of concreteness has especial impact on people of a concrete mentality."

Even if you are correct, which I doubt is true for those on that level of power-obsession, should we pander to that tendency?

I got a sense from Jeffery's Website that these copies of Atlas were meant on his part, in some significant degree, to be actually read. To be a source of persuasion of those in power. Or, at the very least, of the staffers who feed the politicos their lines, and create the substance of much of their lawmaking.

This project strikes me, if your emphasis is in fact what most participants are sharing, as bombarding the targets with a quite expensive and somewhat pointless set of paperback concretes.

Will the sight of nearly all these books being crated up and sent to resellers or, worse, disposal services do anything to add to the credence given to Rand's novel? (You can bet that some enterprising Rand-detesting blogger will try to cadge such footage and plaster it on YouTube.)

If this is mainly a concrete-bound publicity stunt and it doesn't at all have to be then the only productive effect, apart from restocking some libraries and used bookstores, will be to enlarge Leonard Peikoff's royalty checks.

And that, in turn, makes me think that pumping up such sales would be better done through ARI's existing high-school and college essay-contest programs. (Something, with how I utterly detest ARI, that is difficult for me to admit.)

At least those copies would be aimed toward awakening minds ... ones that are generally notably less set in concrete(s), as yet.



Post 27

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 1:19amSanction this postReply
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On revisiting Jeffery's Website, to be sure I had read his material correctly, I saw this appeal in his sample letter to Obama:

I am enclosing a copy of that book with this letter in the hopes that you will read it, take its message to heart, and that you will ultimately stop the damage that is being done to our country. (emphasis added)

I'd say that strongly indicates that he is hoping for Obama (and, I presume, other targets) to actually mentally ingest what Rand wrote about. He's certainly not calling for books to be sent unaccompanied by a personal letter.

I also noticed this footnote:

A big thank you to Mindy Newton who provided some valuable editing that improved the readability and the focus of certain portions of this site.

This does strike me as making Mindy's statement that she is "not affiliated with Jeff's project" somewhat disingenuous.

I am coming to wonder whether Jeff's emphasis, or Mindy's, is in fact stronger among those sparking this project. She has spoken up, so I hope he will soon do so.



Post 28

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 4:50amSanction this postReply
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Mindy,

I love your post 25.

The point is to say, "I am serious about these ideas, and I want you to act on them." At this point in time, references to Rand and AS mean opposition to the stimulus package and other forms of government interference in commerce. Everyone in government already has that in mind. Then comes the book itself. No longer an abstraction, Objectivists and Objectivism are in the building!

Actually sending the book is a much stronger statement than a letter. It is material, concrete. It has the impact of the wetness of rain. Here is the book. It is in your hands. This is how to represent me. This is how I demand you think and act, to represent me. No excuses about what I mean or how to do it. Here. Do this. Do it now.
That sort of concreteness has especial impact on people of a concrete mentality.


Passion and conviction.

...And politicians recognize and respond to passion and conviction.

jt



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Post 29

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 5:48amSanction this postReply
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Laure, Jeff, and Jay,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Mindy,

There are two ways to do this, Ed. One is your way, which includes talking about why you ask the question, why didn't I ask you some question, etc. That involves psychologizing. That is the way you have started off. I recommend against it. You won't like what comes out. If I have to justify clinical judgments, they will be backed by collections of your own posts, in context, selected to show inductively the character of your mind-set. I guess this might seem like an attempt to intimidate you. ...
I'm frustrated, not intimidated. I used to do what you are warning me you will do -- after ~50-100 negative interactions with someone (Daniel Barnes and Brendan come to mind).

I foresee nothing but perpetual, point-counterpoint bickering with you. I used to really like doing the perpetual, point-counterpoint stuff. My first posts here involved a 200+ post debate on abortion. It was real fun at the time and I learned a lot. I got a lot out of it. But I feel differently now.

Let's not hijack Jeff's thread anymore with this potentially drawn-out part. If you feel it's needed, then start a new thread titled:

"I don't give a hoot about Ed Thompson, but here are collections of his posts, in context, selected to show inductively the character of his mind-set."


Michael,

Had to laugh about Mindy and Ed. I don't think Ed is nice! I find him to be stranger than fiction. ;)

I agree with her point, when someone puts their time and effort on the line, applaud or just leave it alone.
Thanks for the jib-jab, I can always expect that from you. I think you have grown to expect it back from me, too.

I take it that you don't totally agree with her point, though (or that you must be misrepresenting it) -- seeing how she was willing to bend over backwards to criticize my "opportunity" poem.

It's okay to be contradictory though -- afterall, you're an artist.

:-)

Ed




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Post 30

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 6:01amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

I see your points as fair criticism of the project, but trust you are not actually opposed to it - just questioning its effectiveness. I've chosen to support it, much for the same reasons that I think Mindy eloquently and passionately stated. Letters only get so much attention. Spending money on a book, and sending it not to one, but to many, says you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, that you are passionate about your ideas, and that this particular book represents important ideas.

Many of the politicians who receive the book will have already read it before, and many of those who haven't read it have probably read or been told something about it (probably inaccurately). Many of those politicians who haven't read it, still will not read it even when delivered to their doorstep. But, with reasonable expectation, all politicians who do receive it will recognize two things - 1) this is a new grass roots effort, and 2) this book, and this philosophy, were the ones chosen to represent our grievances.

Maybe it will only elevate the awareness of these politicians one tenth of one percent (0.1% ), but it will at least remain somewhere in their subconscious. Maybe some sympathetic politician will find the will to be a little bolder in defending our rights. Maybe some socialistic politician will become 0.1% more wary about drawing backlash. These are all maybe's, but there is one definite, positive thing that can come out of sending these books. Provided that story of the effort can find its way into national press, it will result in more curiousity about Atlas Shrugged, its ideas, and Objectivism. To the extent that these ideas can be honestly and fairly represented (probably requiring staunch letter writing support by Objectivists -nothing is easy), this effort will have a positive outcome.

jt



Post 31

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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Steve,

I was trying to be careful not to give the impression that I speak for Jeff's project! I offered to and did edit some material there. And I got public thanks. I made suggestions of add-ons, the bookmarks, underlining. Jeff adopted those ideas. I suggested Michael Newberry sketch us a bookmark, and he added his efforts to the project.

I had no part in conceiving of the project, nor in its planning. I can't take credit for it as one of its producers. I approve of it, have contributed some effort to it, and am participating in it. I read about the reasons for it, but I didn't commit them to memory. Since I agree with them, some, at least, of them are now also my ideas for doing this, i.e., I share them. If I talk about the project, I'll be repeating Jeff's reasons as well as some original to me. I was being careful to avoid giving the impression, due to that, that I was speaking for Jeff or the project. In favor of them, but not for them.

I also started the second thread, questioning people about their interest in the project. That might be something a principal in the project would do. It was not why I started the thread. I started that thread because I really didn't understand why the project didn't get support here--seemingly. I replied to sceptics of the project, because I favor it and want it to succeed.

Here on RoR, my name has come up in connection with this project enough times that one could casually come to suspect I am indeed one of its creators or principals. More the reason that I make sure my thoughts are not mistaken for the project's official position.

I was trying to be careful not to give the impression that I speak for Jeff's project. Shouldn't I have taken pains to do that? Should I have said something other than that I am not affiliated with the project?

Mindy




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Post 32

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 8:26amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

Regarding your claim, "...I used to do what you are warning me you will do..." from your post 29.

You, Ed, could no more do what I am threatening you with than you could flap your arms and fly to the moon. You have no conception of what that would be like.
I have made offers to "satisfy your honor" in a whole string of posts, Ed. You keep whining and squirming and posturing and evading. I'm sick of it.

You are an intellectual inferior. Your posts prove that. No quantity of logos beside your name can change nor hide the nature of your thought. It is all published. Your style of postings is characteristically insipid. You don't have much knowledge, you don't have a strong grasp of Objectivism, you don't know philosophy in general, and you don't express yourself clearly.

You characteristically resort to psychological comments about your opponent in an argument. You fail most of the time to stay on point. You indulge yourself in vitriolic character-assassination by implication. You are pompous and self-adoring without a shred of justification for it.

Your being a popular, central, accepted, official, sanctioned voice here is a blot on RoR. Yours is a stillborn reason.

The greatest possible indictment of your mind and character is one you have played out just recently, in your puling objections to criticism of your posts: You have not once undertaken to argue that what I said WAS NOT TRUE. 

If it is an ass I make of myself in coming to these opinions, and in expressing them, then glory to all asses! 

(Edited by Mindy Newton on 3/28, 8:50am)




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Post 33

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 9:06amSanction this postReply
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Further thoughts on Ed,

Someone here posted that rescuing a child from a tormentor would constitute the initiation of force. I posted immediately that that was wrong. To make that comment on that earlier post is necessary. It is important. This is a place of ideas. It is a place for social contact and interpersonal interaction and enjoyment, too, but the latter is predicated on shared, fundamental ideas.

If I hadn't corrected that post, and nobody else had, RoR would be a lesser place.

Not everybody has the same knowledge. Some people will spot an important error in a discussion of economics I would never get, some will see a mistake in a post on metaphysics that only a few others here can appreciate. Hopefully, almost all the members of RoR are in favor of setting and working towards high standards of accuracy, even when an error isn't one they would have noted. It is always available to ask for explanations or justifications. Otherwise, it isn't reason that we uphold.




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Post 34

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:53pmSanction this postReply
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Steve R:

You wonder about whether I expect the books sent to politicians to actually be read by them and change their minds. Of course I do not. As you point out, they don't even read their own legislation so they certainly are not going to follow our suggestion regarding this book. The majority of politicians hold their office because they enjoy the power it affords them, and most are interested in expanding, not relinquishing that power. So the ultimate message of Atlas Shrugged is lost on them.

In terms of direct impact on the politicians, the only thing that they respond to is the shifting tide of their voter base. If enough of their constituents write in regarding an issue, then they sit up and take notice - not because they actually care about the issue (and that appears to be especially so when the issue is centered around liberty or individual rights) - but because it just might affect their reelection. As Mindy already pointed out, the physical presence of the book is concrete and caries an emotional impact to complement the abstract intellectual ideas contained in the accompanying messages and letters. Multiply the impact of one book by turning it into a pile, and you have something that I believe can penetrate those concrete-bound mentalities.

As I say on my web site, "Let each politician take measure of the weight of our displeasure made manifest in the weight of the books received!" In this way, I hope to put the "fear of Galt" into them by letting them see that there are many like-minded people who seriously disapprove of their tactics, and more importantly, they are becoming organized and united, as witnessed by the Tea Party protests and this book campaign. This is the language of the politician and we need to learn how to speak it.

Having said that, the real purpose of this book campaign is not directed at influencing the politicians, but in sending a message to the public that there are people who oppose the current administration and its policies, and why. In order to get that message out, you need a channel to the media, and to get that, you need a newsworthy event. The Tea Parties are one great opportunity for generating coverage. I would hope that everyone here would attend a protest in their region and make an effort to seek out the media and express a cogent message that could be aired or published. You might even prepare, in advance, a short statement in case you are interviewed, and have a typewritten page you could hand out to press members at the rally with a few quotable statements that could be used in an article. As Objectivists, you have the opportunity to expand the message at these rallies beyond one of simple tax protest to one of moral outrage at the erosion of our rights by the previous and current administrations.

I see the book campaign as another opportunity to get press coverage. It will hopefully be announced at the Tea Party rallies, so the press might follow up on it from that lead. As Jay suggested, we should send copies of AS to the press so that they are directly notified of this action. And as AS book sales climb, there should be more and more coverage of that event in the press.

But what I really hope to accomplish is to get the press to start asking all the politicians about the books they are receiving. I want them to ask what impact it is having upon them; whether they have read the book and learned anything in the process; whether it is influencing any changes in their approach towards current issues. Politicians hate to be scrutinized at this level. If we can entice the press to probe them a bit, I hope it will make them uncomfortable and get them to start considering what they will have to do to "spin" the issue. Regardless or their responses, this should result in more media coverage which will bring the issues to the attention of a wider audience. That's all I can expect from a single action like this, but it is a start.

The effectiveness of all this rests upon getting enough people to participate to make the campaign meaningful. If you want to help, then make your own purchases and send them in, but even more importantly, do what you can to drive a wider audience to the go-galt.org web site so that we increase the pool of potential participants.

Regarding your observation that I credit Mindy with helping me, the fact is that after I originally published the site, Mindy took it upon herself to offer some editing services to help improve the grammar and the readability of certain passages. I really appreciated her initiative and her excellent editing suggestions, and gave her credit accordingly. Mindy has taken an interest in this project and has been a great supporter, and I really appreciate all of her help. There is absolutely nothing "disingenuous" regarding her participation, and I think it is sad that anyone would suggest this.

One troubling aspect of Objectivist culture is that the level of cynicism runs much too high. We get so used to seeing some people lie, evade or just refuse to think, that we start seeing these traits everywhere. If everyone's motives are suspect, then we might as well just toss in the towel and give up. I think that there is a lot of good in people, and that is what I am relying upon to make this campaign a success. Let's see if I'm correct or not. In the meantime, I'm devoting a lot of energy to this effort, so I don't have time left over to debate on forums like this. I hope this piece better explains my intentions, and I will be gratefully for any help you can contribute to the cause.

Regards,
--
Jeff



Post 35

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Jay writes:
    Spending money on a book, and sending it not to one, but to many, says you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, that you are passionate about your ideas, and that this particular book represents important ideas.


That's it in a nutshell. Well said.

Regards,
--
Jeff



Post 36

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 2:22pmSanction this postReply
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Well said.



Post 37

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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CJS: "You wonder about whether I expect the books sent to politicians to actually be read by them and change their minds. Of course I do not. [...]"

If that's how you really see this, your strenuous urging on the Website that a personal letter accompany each such book calling for precisely this itself becomes disingenuous. And, for that matter, considerably cynical.

I'm coming to see the call for such letters as a covering figleaf for what is, indeed, a publicity stunt, and nothing more. That, I'm afraid, borders on hypocrisy with the letters being undertaken to satisfy Objectivist gadflies, who want to see some genuine changing of minds as part of the intention of such a project.

To reverse Rand's aphorism, political symbol-mongering engages one of the retailers in human affairs. And such retailers deal with, yes, concretes. Little is going to change from such a blunt symbolic instrument as dumping thousands of unread, and meant to never be read, books at their doorsteps.

(For many of the books, never to even be delivered. You still don't acknowledge that, as I mentioned, many packages sent to the offices of Congress are discarded unopened out of fear of more "attacks," and have been for over seven years now. They shouldn't be, but why let facts get in the way of rationalizing another $50 billion boondoggle?)

Jay Abbott: "I see your points as fair criticism of the project, but trust you are not actually opposed to it just questioning its effectiveness."

I do expect it to be ineffective. Some, again, will not even reach their targets. More, by far, will never be read. And, now, with even the prime mover for this being cynical about the book actually being taken to heart, and requesting letters that echo such hypocrisy ... it moves from being ineffective to risking giving a negative gloss to the "going Galt" meme.

That, to me, makes it a waste except, as I said, for enriching Peikoff's royalties and second-hand bookstores' stockpiles. And although I certainly wouldn't stand in the way of others thus spending their money, at several dollars per (missed) throw, I can't say that I approve of waste.



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Post 38

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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MN:"...when someone puts their time and effort on the line, applaud or just leave it alone."

Ed: "I take it that you don't totally agree with her point, though (or that you must be misrepresenting it) -- seeing how she was willing to bend over backwards to criticize my "opportunity" poem."

:)

Ed,

Jeff is doing something constructive, putting his time, effort, and money on the line. I offered my work. Laure put in money and effort, and Mindy all of the above.

Your foray into art appropriation was pure wanking-no thought, value, or effort. So I don't see your comparison holding up.

Cheers,

Michael



Post 39

Saturday, March 28, 2009 - 8:11pmSanction this postReply
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Steve,

Your point taken, about the letters, although I think your judgement is unduly harsh. Keep in mind that those sending books really - personally - want to be heard, not ignored. Whether it is a conceit or not, letter writing can provide some personal comfort that the writer has 'had their say'. Would you take that small comfort away?

Nevertheless, your point does suggest that a better strategy might be employed to increase chances that the intended recipients will notice. I might suggest a simple email "you will be receiving this book from me" in advance of mailing, cc'ing appropriate news desks, of course.

For myself, however effective or ineffective it might be, it still represents at least some concerted effort - something I might participate in and enjoy the satisfaction of the effort. Perhaps this is a personal weakness of mine... so be it.

jt
(Edited by Jay Abbott on 3/28, 8:13pm)




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