I helped to kick this thing off, so now it's time to jump in. Pull up a chair and I'll get the bottle of scotch, cause this is gonna take a while...
Wow! Talk about a dichotomy! ARI-TOC in all three compromise challenges of yours. And here is little ole me - after over 30 years in Brazil - who knows precious little about the specifics of both. Just so I can be able to talk intelligently about your questions, I'll have to use a different slant (which I normally do anyway...)
At the risk of going off-topic, your questions smell a great deal to me like a dialectical approach. And I do have very strong views on dialectics as applied to living.
But let's be a little more thorough right now and define the term. (I love the Internet because you can do that without taking heavy volumes down from the bookshelf and flipping through a bunch of pages.) A google search yielded these definitions for dialectical:
A pattern of change that begins with some state of affairs (‘thesis’); which then is overturned because of its own contradictions, giving rise to its opposite (‘antithesis’); and which then reaches an equilibrium where the best features of the original state of affairs are preserved (‘synthesis’). Marx argues that historical change is dialectical: each stage of class society contains contradictions that lead to its overthrow, yet this series of revolutions is progressive. That about covers it from my understanding of the term.
Broadly speaking, a dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a disagreement. The aim of the dialectical method, often known as dialectic or dialectics, is to try to resolve the disagreement through rational discussion. One way -- the Socratic method -- is to show that a given hypothesis (with other admissions) leads to a contradiction; thus, forcing the withdrawal of the hypothesis as a candidate for truth. Another way of trying to resolve a disagreement is by denying some presupposition of the contending thesis and antithesis; thus moving to a third thesis.
Now, to wander off this line of thought for a minute, here is my long distance take on your questions - from Brazil during decades of isolation:
1. Are both ARI and TOC based on the same principles? Yup - Ayn Rand's Objectivism. Sorry to be simple, but there it is.
Which will win the day? Don't know and don't really care. Once again, sorry to be simple, but I have nothing to do with either of them. I carried Objectivism to Brazil and went through it all by myself for decades. (To tell the absolute truth - I - me, Michael - want to win - and win in life - which is why I migrated to Objectivism in the first place.)
2. If TOC engages with (tolerates/sanctions) religious conservatives and other such people, who will win? (yawn - sorry...) Ayn Rand says the disagree-ers with reason - the real evil doers - the bad guys - will win. This question is so general that I can only say that, like all things in life, completely shutting your eyes means you can't see. And getting too close to very bright lights with eyes open will also blind you.
There are way too many degrees and contexts here, but I still can't help thinking about Ronald Reagan. He was influenced by Ayn Rand and he was also religious. When he became President, the country was in a holy mess - with special emphasis on a general overall feeling of people not being very proud to be an American. This had wreaked - and was wreaking - way too much damage to the USA. Things were in a downward spiral.
Well, the specific Objectivist-like ideas President Reagan did hold changed the world. He stopped the Cold War for instance, and made it a good thing in people's hearts to be an American again. The whole world is much better off than it was before because of him and these ideas. This is way too long a topic to give many examples, but you can safely say that America has greatly improved but it still is a holy mess in many areas. Who won? I'll give it to Objectivist-like ideas here, hands down, despite the negatives that got left over. Seems pretty obvious to me.
I think TOC's goal is to do something like that. It is outreaching to the other philosophies/religions in our culture to plant seeds there. The issue is not whether this approach is valid. They are going to do it anyway. The real issue to me is whether they are going to actually eat - or become contaminated with - the spiritual poison out there and become deathly ill themselves. All we can do is sit back and watch and see what happens. I don't think that any argument is going to change their approach.
3. Are the differences between ARI and TOC clearly defined? To me, from the Brazil/decades viewpoint, this is the easiest question. The answer is yup. It is called Leonard Peikoff and David Kelley. Both have stamped their particular organizations with their own strengths and failings. Both are charismatic enough to win over supporters - so logically both have staunch defenders of their own weaknesses (like excommunications and fence-sitting respectively, just to mention a couple).
Now I want to get back to the dialectical nature of your question and offer an alternative. I have come up with a way of solving dialectical issues that end up resulting in impossible situations. I call it the fuck-it-anyway dialectical approach.
I will illustrate by an example from my own life. I was trained as a symphonic conductor by Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho during three years of private lessons (while I played first trombone in his orchestra). I did not realize until my first lesson what a genius this man was. Some of his former students were Seiji Osawa, Zubin Mehta, Loren Maezel and other big shots in the conducting world (he used to teach at Tanglewood and Julliard, to name a few places). Maestro Eleazar never charged me one cent for all those lessons. After I became his assistant, I discovered that I had painted myself into a corner. The downside of being next to him was that he was very abrasive and always created many enemies. Also he had been betrayed by one assistant conductor after another over the years - and I was sort of in a hot seat in his mind, so to speak.
At that time, Brazil was divided into two camps in classical music. One was Maestro Eleazar and the other was a former assistant conductor of his, Maestro Isaac Karabtchevshy. They had come to blows much earlier when Maestro Isaac had won in ousting Maestro Eleazar as permanent conductor from an orchestra in Rio de Janeiro (Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira). The fight was extremely bitter and lasted a lifetime.
Given the fact of Maestro Eleazar's abrasive personality and tremendous distrust of his assistants, my opportunities to conduct were severely curtailed wherever he could influence them (meaning anywhere he could not keep his eye on me - and his reach was very far). I was approached several times by people from the other camp at that time. I have no idea of how much Maestro Isaac personally knew or participated in this, but I was told in absolutely blatant terms that if I would come out in the press against Maestro Eleazar, they would set me up with many opportunities, as they thought that I had a great deal of talent. If not, they would hold me back wherever they could.
So here was the dialectical situation, clearly defined. I couldn't betray a man who had literally put the baton in my hands with all those private lessons for free and had appointed me as his assistant, but who was holding me back right then. (By the way - I used to get rave reviews for my concerts, so talent was never the issue.) I also was blocked in my career in Brazil due to a political issue that I had nothing to do with. Also, I could not leave because I had to stay in São Paulo at that time for very personal reasons.
So I punched the eject button. I chose the fuck-it-anyway dialectical option and went into pop music and motion pictures. I did some pretty good work in those fields too, writing and producing songs for TV Globo soap operas, producing some top Brazilian artists, making movies and doing whatever work I could get. I did not play according to the rules of either side in the classical music war. Fuck 'em, if that't the way it had to be.
Now back to ARI-TOC. When I returned to the USA, I was a little tired of the loneliness of being a wildcat loner Objectivst (using Ayn Rand's original sense of an Objectivist being a student of Objectivism). I wanted to seek out Objectivists and see where my own lone-wolf thinking and experiences in life could be exchanged with other like-minded people. I even wanted a social life without always having to make allowances for essential beliefs like religion, etc.
So I started sniffing around the Internet to see what was out there. The ARI-TOC thing was obviously THE issue in Objectivism in the USA. If you go to one, you can't go to the other. Both say that's not true, but from what I have been able to see, that actually is pretty much the case.
Then out of the blue, I decided to look at a site I had come across in Brazil a while back, SOLO. It fit my approach of also not playing by nonessential rules. So I started posting and haven't stopped. I have found many people I admire and care for deeply here - including a real-life heroine of mine, Barbara Branden, my own dear sweet Kitten, Michael Newberry, Robert Bidinotto Hong Zhang, George Cordero, John Newnham, Linz himself (ahem...) and many, many others.
Frankly I have become almost addicted to the free exchange of ideas around here - and even to the uneven content. I have the feeling that important people are trying to discuss important issues. They go for big essential ideas, uncover big insights and even make big messes of things when they get them wrong.
That's me to a tee.
So, Tom, which is it to be? ARI or TOC? Which approach is right? Or worse, how do you even discuss that without eventually coming to personal blows with the people who populate those organizations?
My decision has been to say, "Fuck 'em both. I found SOLO. And if that ever goes bad, I'll just move on. But I will never become part of those particular nonessential dialectical monkeyshines."
Is SOLO a dialectical synthesis of ARI (thesis) and TOC (antithesis)? Is it even some kind of real-life proof to sanction either side? Nope. Not to me. It is just something new that is serving a need that has not been served before - more like a productive rejection of the whole shebang than an ARI-TOC blend. You know, sort of fuck-'em-anyway. Like what I do in my own life with petty fights that blow up into full scale collective clashes.
A special aside to Belligerent Linz. Please note that I do not say, "I love you, but..."
No "buts" right now. Not here. I love SOLO. Period.
(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 4/18, 11:04pm)