The Atlas Society and The Objectivist Center Names

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The following was published on TAS/TOC's site June 5, 2006 but a circular was sent to "members and friends" by mail dated May 22 from The Executive Director and Trustees.

The Atlas Society and The Objectivist Center Names

Many of you have noticed the increased use of "The Atlas Society" name on our op-eds, e-mails, Web site, and elsewhere. Perceptive members!

As you know, we've had an Atlas Society since 1999. That name and its special part of our Web site were meant to appeal to those who read Ayn Rand novels and who are taken -- as so many of us are -- by their excitement, romance, and vision of a benevolent society of productive individuals. Rand's books sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year. Thus there is a potentially huge audience for our organization and its message. And now that an Atlas Shrugged movie is seriously in the works, that audience is likely to grow.

So our Trustees have decided to use The Atlas Society as our official name, which will help us promote our ideas to Rand readers as well as to the general public, while reserving The Objectivist Center name for our more academic and scholarly activities.

You've already seen some of the results of our outreach efforts. We've upgraded our Web site and are now posting new material at least every week. We are sending weekly e-mails to those who've signed up for updates as well. Further, The New Individualist has a new, more newsstand-worthy look, size, variety, and style, and we indeed intend to get it on newsstands in the future.

As part of this outreach strategy, the Atlas name will invoke the Rand novel that has changed so many lives. For those unfamiliar with philosophy, "Atlas" is a less intimidating, more familiar and more memorable name than is "Objectivism," although our goal is to introduce readers to the philosophy behind the novels that they love.

Our Trustee Walter Donway put it well when he said that ultimately we are trying to create "an Atlas society."

We understand this to be the positive meaning of "Atlas." This is not Atlas bowed and bloodied under the unfair yoke of carrying the world, even as he's damned by the envious for his strength and virtues and as his knees buckle under the burden.

This is the Atlas who welcomes the challenge to his mind, his strength, and the best within him, who takes on the most difficult tasks because of the resulting joy in hard-won successes, the Atlas who celebrates each victory because each is the result of his own reason and productivity, the Atlas in all of us.

We thank you, our members and friends, for your support, and look forward to promoting the principles of a rational, prosperous, benevolent society symbolized by Atlas!

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And, it's funny how someone as busy as Diana Hsieh talks about being would bother to expend a fairly hefty word count on something like a name change. Very curmudgeonly of her.

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We are the most respected independent source of information about Objectivism, the philosophy defined by Ayn Rand, the renowned author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

I don't know if TOC is open to criticism from an outsider, but this just sounds wrong to me. I think it's silly and pretentious to call yourself "the most respected something". On me it has the opposite effect: it makes me seriously doubt the respectability of the person or organization making such a statement. If you're really the most respected, you've no need to proclaim that fact loudly. It's similar to someone who loudly proclaims that he is honest: in that case I immediately start to wonder what he has to hide and I have a strong suspicion that he's up to no good. My advice is: stop patting yourself on the back like this, it's not the way to gain respectability. It sounds also defensive, as if the denouncements of some randroid nutcases really have some merit and therefore have to be countered. I definitely get the impression that good PR is not TOC's strong suit.

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My first thought was: Diana Hsieh wrote this?

Perhaps we should all think twice about "immoral pricks." Or to realise that few of the people we dislike in real life, are as purely evil as the humanitarian [sic] Toohey or the scientist [sic] Ferris.

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