Basic Objectivist Living stuff
Posted 03 March 2006 - 11:13 AM
Objectivist Living is a forum for Objectivists and their friends. All people are welcome, but we do have our own particular focus.
The view of Objectivism fostered here is that it is a set of philosophical principles created by Ayn Rand. The initial official version includes contributions by her and people she indicated (as she formally stated in The Objectivist).
We hold that Objectivism is a dynamic, not static, set of principles. These principles are integrated into one system, but this does not preclude future integrations, additions and corrections as the nature of human beings and the universe becomes understood in more depth.
"Check your premises" is one of the basic attitudes that is encouraged here and no premise is so sacred that it cannot be periodically checked. There are no Objectivism commandments defining heresy and blasphemy around here. Intelligent and sincere examination, however, is the standard.
Objectivist Living is devoted to the creation of new works in all areas. Both fiction and nonfiction in literature are encouraged, but fiction is given special attention, as are other creative arts. Objectivism started out as wonderful novels by Ayn Rand. More works need to be written and published, but this cannot happen in a vacuum. Thus Objectivist Living is a place for creators and producers to hang out with each other and with their friends - and hopefully get some work done.
For the detractors of the Brandens, please be advised that Objectivist Living is a haven for them. People can get a positive image of them here. They can learn about the Brandens and learn from them. The Brandens were fundamental to the creation of Objectivism and we feel lucky to be able to interact with them. Disagreements with them on specific issues are OK, but Branden bashing is not tolerated. Instead, we wish to honor them.
Also, flame wars will be extinguised the moment they erupt. We will try to be as diplomatic as possible about this but gratuitous insults are not tolerated. We hold good manners as a value in exchanging ideas.
On an emotional level, we nurture positive emotions like love, admiration, curiosity, etc., and not negative ones like hatred, contempt, rage, etc. This is not an exclusive policy, since some things must be condemned, but predominance is on the positive side.
Objectivist Living is not a movement, merely a place to discuss important ideas in peace with highly intelligent people and create works. We are a place for Ayn Rand's "silent contingency" to appear, should such individuals care to do so, or they can simply read. These are people who admire Rand's works but do not admire the behavior of the Objectivists they have encountered, so they stay home. We aim to be an oasis from the bickering for them.
We wish to extend a hearty welcome to all who come in goodwill and peace.
Michael & Kat
Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:03 PM
As time has gone on and this forum has grown, some things have become clearer than when we started. This is natural where human beings are concerned. So sometimes I have had to explain the spirit of OL to newcomers.
This last time nailed it in a manner I have not been able to articulate as well before, so I decided to include it below.
The context: a newcomer asked what the administrative stucture was on OL. I responded:
Kat and I own the forum.
I basically run it--sort of like a traffic cop. I try to make sure things are moving along and that nobody hogs the forum with excessive preaching, trolling, spam and so forth. No explicit porn, either..
There is no protection of Rand's honor or anything like that here. No adherence to a party line. For instance, we even have a few socialists who are interested in Rand who regularly post. (They're great people, too. They even put up with me. )
There is something that looks like an exception, but it's really not. I have a very soft spot for Barbara Branden and Nathaniel Branden. During the publication of Valliant's boneheaded book against them, a small group of true believers haunted everywhere on the Internet the Brandens were mentioned and flooded each place with snarky derogatory statements about them--reams and reams of convoluted, eye-glazing hair-splits to prove Rand was pure and the Brandens were contaminated. ("Moral hygiene" was even a popular phrase back then. But soapbox on a bubble is the image that comes to my mind. )
So I made a rule here that there was one place on the Internet--other than the Brandens' own sites--where that would not happen. It's OK to disagree with them, even criticize them if it's respectful. But no ham-handed character smears.
The reason I say this isn't an exception is that OL is not a vehicle for any ham-handed character smears of anyone. I just had to be extra-clear in this case because of the excessive enthusiasm of the zealots.
There are certain authors I believe should have a place to present their work before the targeted audience of OL, so I set up "Corners." Generally, these authors have moderating privileges within their respective Corners. Some are more tolerant of comments than others. Each decides according to his or her convenience.
Other than that, there is no hierarchy. People come and go as they please. My attitude is that what is good for each individual posting-wise is good for OL. So you won't see here the comical swan songs of people leaving and long threads of others begging them to stay that you can see elsewhere. It's either give and receive value, or the person is free to pursue a different audience and community elsewhere. Cliques and power games don't flourish well here.
We do have a group of regular posters and I love each one. But they are here by their own free choice. Just as I am, for that matter.
No peer pressure. No lockstep. People speak for themselves and no one speaks for "Objectivism" or Rand or anything resembling an organized ideological hierarchy. There are standards, of course. And there is flexibility.
Another point is that OL is not part of the "Objectivist movement," whatever the hell that is. It is not a place to preach, but instead, work through ideas. All of the regulars (and I believe a good portion of the lurkers) have come to Rand's ideas because of something in them that strongly resonated. However, each person brings a different history and a different context. Some people are faster and some are slower. Some are more abstract and some are more image and example oriented. Some are storytellers and others are science people. Some like to gossip and others... er... scratch that. EVERYONE likes to gossip.
Each person has something different to get out of the ideas, too. There is no law requiring that everyone go into the Rand sausage machine and come out a perfectly formed O-weiner at the other end.
I frame it like this. In most Internet places where Objevtivism is treated prominently, Objectivism and Rand are the end points. You go there to absorb the ideas (or bash them for the hostile sites)--to learn what is right and wrong according to authority figures--and interact with others who are doing the same.
Most of the discussions at these places have the subtext that Rand is right and her enemies are both wrong and evil. Or that Rand is wrong and her followers are pathetic deluded idiots, and the true authority is [FILL IN THE BLANK]. Two different flavors, but the same substance. Depending on the venue, this subtext even permeates the words "and" and "if."
Here on OL, Objectivism and Rand are starting points. We are attracted to each other because we have a common interest that has impacted our lives in varying degrees of importance, but each person's life and goals are the end points--for them. People determine their values, not a philosophy. Mutual respect for these differences is the only way I have found to make a rich form of interaction and growth work.
If independent thinking is the major frame, then working through ideas is a messy experience, not a neat and tidy one commanded from on high. And OL is a place where we foster independent thinking. What's the use of truth if you have to blind part of your mind to see it? So messy it is--within reason, of course.
When things get too messy and the mess starts hogging the virtual thoroughfares, I step in. But ask around. That's pretty rare. And even then, there's a lot of flexibility. Before I ban or moderate, I generally throw someone's crap in the Garbage Pile and say what's wrong with it. And I try to be open to correction if I screw up.
I personally believe that an independent mind seeking enlightenment through honest, first-hand, personal initiative, even when wrong, is the most precious thing on earth.
That's what OL is all about.
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