|Chris, in your latest round of questions (post 123), you are conflating a whole bunch of issues.|
1. Let's start with the fact that some people once associated with us no longer are. That is a fact. And there is a good reason for it. Over time, every program develops a constituency. And whenever we decide to jettison programs or personnel who are not performing as well as we'd like, people wedded to those programs and personnel obviously don't like it, and will argue and protest. A number will leave. Some who leave will decide to trumpet their gripes publicly. A few, apparently having little better to do with their time, elevate such griping into a fulltime occupation.
But to be effective, every business or organization has to find its unique competitive advantage in the marketplace (in our case, in the marketplace of ideas), and then focus its efforts and resources there. None of this indicates a lack of commitment to Objectivism. Quite the contrary: it indicates a commitment so serious that we want to use the precious resources given to us to their best possible advantage in advancing Objectivism. It is a matter of prudence, and of honor.
2. You write: "What's so hard about speaking to the fact that TOC used to be a place that spoke the right kind of message and was experiencing growth due to that, but now appears to be receding from that period of growth and whose name now seems too synonymous with the Brandens?" This conflates a host of issues:
a. What is "the right kind of message"? Fulminations and personal insults of the sort that you find elsewhere? Or hard-hitting messages of principle directed toward serious issues, and read by many thousands, some quite influential? Because that is what we are accomplishing.
b. "...experiencing growth due to that [message]..." First, since our message hasn't changed, fluctuations in growth couldn't be due to our having a different one. Second, growth -- by what measure? After a couple of tough years in the wake of 9/11, we have bounced back financially. And our outreach efforts are generating more and more public attention. For example, even after steady growth throughout 2005, visits to our Web site have soared an additional 35% within the past four months alone.
Or take The New Individualist. Subscriptions to our newly revamped magazine are pouring in, as are requests for free sample copies. The magazine has more than doubled in size, and we're making arrangements to put it on newsstands. In editorial quality, information, variety, style, sheer readability, entertainment value, aesthetic appeal -- and commitment to principle -- I'll stack The New Individualist against ANY Objectivist, libertarian, or conservative publication. To back my point, I extend a personal invitation, Chris: send me your address, and I'll mail you the three latest issues. You can judge our efforts for yourself.
In passing, let me also note that even in the scholarly arena, TOC is rarely credited for things it accomplishes. For example, Objectivist philosopher Stephen Hicks's important book on postmodernism has gone through five printings. That book, Dr. Hicks says, benefited greatly during its gestation from his sabbatical at The Objectivist Center, and from feedback and discussions there with TOC scholars, whom he credits in the book. (Only a schedule conflict prevents Dr. Hicks from participating in this year's Summer Seminar.)
c. "...and whose name now seems too synonymous with the Brandens."
It was the Nazi Goebbels, I believe, who said that if you repeat even an outrageous lie loudly and often enough, millions of fools will come believe it. Chris, WE didn't make our name "synonymous with the Brandens"; Certain People have made that claim.
And it is a lie. Not a mistake. A lie.
As the liars well know, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden have nothing, zero, nada to do with the policies, direction, or views of TOC. They have no input. They are not on our Board of Trustees. They are not on our Advisory Board. They never have been.
In fact, we rarely even hear from them.
Like many scores of people with specialized knowledge about aspects of Objectivism, they have been invited as occasional speakers to our events -- in Barbara's case, only once previously. We also carry some of their writings and tapes -- many of those consisting of material they produced UNDER THE AUSPICES OF AYN RAND back in the days of NBI. However, because we do NOT focus on the life and biography of Ayn Rand, we have NEVER carried in our bookstore and catalogs their biographical books about Rand (or, for that matter, ANY other Rand biography), nor have we invited either of them to speak about Rand's private life, or their relationships with her.
Our position on this point has remained absolutely consistent since the founding of TOC in 1990. It is our critics -- not us -- who want to dwell on the private lives of Rand, Nathaniel, and Barbara.
In short, the claim that we are "followers" of either Nathaniel Branden or Barbara, or that they somehow run or influence our operations, is a complete falsehood intended as a smear. I say "intended" because in fact we consider these claims to be hilarious. Barbara and Nathaniel would be stunned and amazed to learn of their unknown power over TOC -- and of our devious ability to hide our abject servitude to them so successfully, for so many years.
Chris, I do not get the sense that you are insincere, or malicious. I simply find your comments baffling in some respects, and confused in others.
Finally, I would like to point out something else. It has taken me a LONGGGGG time to respond to your post. It is so fast and easy to sling charges and claims; but refuting them takes a great deal of time. I have done so this time because I sense you are honest, but confused. And because I don't want your confusions to go on record unchallenged.
But confusion is one thing. Lies, smears, and character assassination are quite something else.
Chris, I ask you: If I were to respond to every outrageous claim and charge by the guttersnipes (who manufacture about ten new ones per hour), what do you suppose my daily schedule would look like?
So do you think it is fair to expect me to reply to those who spend hours each day spreading nothing but falsehoods about the private lives, characters, and views of others, instead of getting on with their own careers and producing something of real value?
Or should I instead get back to work on the next issue of The New Individualist, and let such work stand as the most compelling refutation of the claims of the guttersnipes?
(Edited by Robert Bidinotto
on 5/25, 9:35am)