Friday, September 18, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Socialism

I recall in the mid 1980's or 10 B.I. (Before Internet), as the Ayn Rand Institute was just being formed, about the only existing national connection to Objectivism was through the sporadically published Intellectual Activist. I then remember the excitement I had helping to form an Objectivist club in college and having the opportunity to bring in national speakers and host local meetings. I was naively shocked by the seeming paradox of such intense and widespread interest in Ayn Rand amid a complete shut out by official academia. I remember leftist thugs literally stealing our pamphlets and assorted literature from outside a lecture hall and throwing them in the Mississippi River. (By the way, that demonstrated to me the essential difference between fascists and socialists - fascists burn books while socialists drown them.) I remember the same group coming into one of our meetings and brazenly stealing the literature off of the table. When we chased them down and asked them if they had ever bothered to read anything they stole from us, a pale frumpy girl from the thought police posse snapped: "All you have to do is read the titles." Well, give them credit for one thing - they feared the right "titles."

In the intervening years, a lot has happened. ARI has steadily grown, the internet has given an impassioned voice to Objectivism, and incremental but necessary steps have been taken. However, even as of a few years ago, I had the same sense of foreboding that I had while attending a disappointing auction of Ayn Rand memorabilia in the 1990's - a sense that we had a long way to go.

How inspiring then, all these years later, to have attended the Atlas Shrugged Revolution benefit in New York City a few days ago. To see a packed room full of successful businessmen, prominent media personalities, and brilliant intellectuals in an event to raise serious money for the Ayn Rand Institute was unlike any event I had previously attended. This came on the heels of manning a table at a Tea Party Express event a few weeks ago where thousands of people gathered on the way to the larger Washington D.C. march that attracted over one hundred thousand outraged Americans. All of this is occurring amidst daily mentions of Ayn Rand in the national media, Objectivist intellectuals appearing regularly on national television, and record sales of Atlas Shrugged. Sitting at this benefit, listening to speeches by front line educators and businessmen, presentations on the startling successes to date, and plans for efforts to literally change the world, it dawned on me in a way that was not as abstract as it had been in the past - it dawned on me that we could win this thing.

14 comments:

mobil'homme said...

Who are you and what have you done with Doug? :-D

UncleJim said...

Objectivism only provides the language. Humans must use it to explain that upon which a properly existing human depends for attaining his personal happiness.

Zip said...

We've come a long way... but the journey has just begun.

Doug Reich said...

Mobil (JS),

LOL - you must know me or somethin' - (being in NYC always gives me hope)

Dean Kriegel said...

Thanks Doug, that post made my day.

Doug Reich said...

Thanks Dean - it made my day to write it! By the way, your blog at:

http://theforgottenman.tumblr.com/

really looks good. Way to go!

Amit Ghate said...

Thanks for posting this Doug! While I make no predictions, I too am encouraged by the possibilities that are opening up all around us.

Richard said...

Yaron's standing ovation at the ARC/CEI tea party panel discussion gives me hope as well.
http://tinyurl.com/mnncdz

Doug Reich said...

Amit,

Thanks for the comment and congrats on another article published at PJTV - it is excellent

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/we-need-a-return-to-principled-government/

Richard, thanks for sharing that link - was not aware of it.

Doug

Beth said...

It warms my heart to read this post---for my own pleasure and the personal encouragement it promotes, as well as my joy that you were able to have such positive experiences. You deserve nothing less!

garret seinen said...

Doug, it was always 'preordained' that Objectism would win - in the end. Any human being willing to challenge their own beliefs, after reading Ayn Rand, must inevitably come to the conclusion that existence exists and that is all that exists. The rest simply follows.

It also helps that Yaron Brook is the lead spokesman for ARI and that the internet age allows us access to ideas that would otherwise be stifled.

Personally for me, the 'dark ages' of Objectivism were when it was literally impossible to cut through the impeding wall of public apathy.

By the way, take a bow yourself as you are also an inspiration. Please keep it up.

Richard said...

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh, thank goodness garret seinen's "preordained" was in scare quotes. Without them... gack, hack, garch, hurl, plooweh, spit, gasp, spit again, and gasp.

Michael Smith said...

I appreciate your optimism, but there is one factor we cannot forget: we must never underestimate the Republican Party's ability to negotiate its way to a defeat, even as it stares victory in the face.

Doug Reich said...

Michael,

Take my optimism in the widest most abstract form, i.e., I do not mean that we should expect the Republicans or any current politician to systematically, morally defend individual rights and capitalism.

My optimism pertains to our ability to rapidly influence the culture philosophically in such a way that we can slow down the onslaught of tyranny in the short run and eventually pave the way for a culture of reason, egoism, and freedom.

Specifically, the quantity and quality of the people that are getting behind this effort and that are recognizing how vital these ideas are to saving civilization is like nothing I have seen in my lifetime. In terms of money, publicity, exposure in the universities and high schools, and the broader cross section of people and academics that are taking these ideas seriously, we really have a chance.

Let's keep it up!