The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is the first Objectivist political action organization in history, and a learning curve is to be expected. Ayn Rand distinguished collaboration with those who share the same basic premises - which is to the advantage of the more consistent, in this case, to the advantage of the Objectivist - from collaboration with those whose basic premises are different, in which case collaboration advantages the more evil and irrational, who benefit from the sanction that collaboration gives them. Enlightenment-based Classical Liberals (Reason Magazine contributors such as Radley Balko, Virginia Postrel and Cathy Young, for example) are good potential allies. Supernaturalist Conservatives and populist/localist Libertarians, on the other hand, hold delusional premises - and giving them ideological credibility (and tainting our own) by collaborating with them can only be counterproductive. While individual Objectivists may well collaborate productively with non-Objectivist organizations on specific projects without appearing to endorse their ideologies, the Ayn Rand Center effectively lends Ayn Rand's name to organizations with whom it is seen to collaborate. But the task of distinguishing between those two categories of potential allies is hampered by America's current Pragmatist culture, which discourages even ideological organizations from openly stating their principles. Checking out the websites of potential allies, and identifying the premises underlying their political positions, is an essential component of ideological quality control - and an indispensable precondition of long-term political effectiveness.
I noticed that the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is listed as a "Co-Sponsor" of the 09.12.09 Protest at the Capitol. Reading the list of sponsors, Ayn Rand's name is the only one that the average American will immediately recognize. The logo of the "Protest at the Capitol" shows, with the US Capitol in the background, three red fists, in the style of the old anti-draft Left Libertarian protests that some Objectivists joined back in the 1960s, prompting Ayn Rand to caution them, in the essay I cite in my April 5th blog post (below) against the hazards of unprincipled alliances. The impulse is understandable: slavery, whether by old means of conscription, or of the new threats of higher taxes, "national service," hyperinflation and so on, is despicable enough that even the most rational individualists will feel the impulse to look for allies. But emotions are not a guide to action. Alliances with nuts and cranks transfer the credibility of rational men to men who do not deserve to be made credible. Who are the other sponsors of this event?
The primary "National Sponsor" and main organizer of this event is, as can be told from the red fist logo, a Left Libertarian organization, one called "FreedomWorks Foundation." (When I wrote this blog entry I didn't know that FreedomWorks is a front for Dick Armey. See my comment #6, below.) Their idea of "Freedom" includes the "freedom" to make "free" permanent copies of rented DVDs to one's hard drive - regardless of copyright. Back before the present plague of Pragmatism, even Conservatives, much less Objectivists, would have had qualms at associating with such an outfit. But under the cover of Pragmatism, with its the rejection of principles qua principles, the Left Libertarian position (with its disregard of individualist principles - such as the principle that a creator rightly owns the product of his creative action - for the sake of some "larger" social or political "freedom") has a certain appeal to the sufficiently Pragmatist Conservative. After all, media producers, directors, entertainers and songwriters are big financial contributors to the "Left." If they can be deprived of a part of their income, the campaign coffers of the "Left" will be that much lighter. And about the principle of the creator's right to the product of his mind - "Principle? What's a 'Principle'? You talk like an Elitist Intellectual! The Enemy!" Yet if this principle is discarded, a protest against taxation is left without a moral foundation - and its participants can only look like objectors, not against taxation per se, but only against some specific ends to which they are being taxed.
So much for the organizers. What about the ARC's fellow co-sponsors? They come in two varieties. Some identify as "Conservatives." For example, here is the mission statement from the FAQ of a double co-sponsor, GrassFire, which also lists its ResistNet affiliate as a separate co-sponsor: Grassfire.org’s leadership team holds a strong and unwavering commitment to conservative, pro-family and pro-faith values. And those are the lesser evil.
The other co-sponsors ("Campaign For Liberty," "Young Americans for Liberty" - formerly "Students for Ron Paul." and so on) are "Ron Paul Libertarians" - anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-global-trade, "anti-militarist anti-Imperialists," believers that Iran would be harmless if Americans had not objected when "Iran wanted to control its own oil fields."
Nuts and cranks. And the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.