|I wanted to add my voice to this dialogue only because I think a few things need to be articulated here, aside from the obvious: that the owners of this site have a right to agree or not to agree with commercial arrangements of any sort; that the owners of this site have a right to set policy on what is acceptable.|
First, SOLO is an Objectivist organization. So far as I see, there is no "official" SOLO view of anything except that it is an Objectivist organization. But Objectivism has identity. This most certainly applies to fundamentals, even if it allows for a lot of disagreement concerning the particulars. Even though I have actually praised the "hijacking" of the philosophy, that is, the application of the philosophy's essentials to new issues and contexts, I have always argued that we should assume responsibility for our own interpretations and applications. So I'm a little uncomfortable with the suggestion that SOLO may not be the place for such interpretations: right-wing, left-wing, or otherwise. The whole point of dialogue is that we'll be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff, so as to clarify, rather than to "mislead and confuse." The whole point of dialogue is to put the authors of articles on notice: that they must defend their formulations as an extension of, or an application of, or a departure from Objectivism. More importantly, they must defend their formulations as true, quite apart from whether they are "Objectivist" or not.
I have often been derided by my buddy Lindsay for being a bit too "ecumenical." And the irony is that, on this score, SOLO has been wildly ecumenical---far beyond anything I've ever seen on any specifically Objectivist board anywhere. I, myself, have had serious, crazy, passionate, blazing discussions here---disagreements on everything from Eminem, feminism, and homosexuality to global policy, the Iraq war, and aesthetics. Are there "smears"? Is there "evasion"? Welcome to the Internet! If you don't want the disagreement or the disagreeable on an Objectivist organizational site, then set up a website that has no interface between the reader and the sponsoring organization. Set up a website that doesn't include comments and discussion, a website whose only purpose will be to repeat the catechism.
That is not SOLO. Bringing up the "Old Soviet Union" or comparing Lindsay to Lenin and Stalin is appalling. It trivializes the nightmare that was the Soviet Union and insults the memory of the millions of people who were murdered under that bloody regime.
Those who scream about the stultifying atmosphere here are still publishing here. Nobody has been purged and shot. Nobody has cultishly insisted on the "status quo orthodoxy." Indeed, if Lindsay were so insistent, he'd never have published a monograph on homosexuality---one that departs from the Objectivist "status quo orthodoxy." It's a monograph that does not, in my humble view as its author, participate in a "gay rights agenda" or "identity politics"; it is a monograph that advocates an individual rights agenda, which happens to include people of whatever sexual orientation; it is a monograph that seeks to celebrate Rand's exalted view of love as a response to values, as a legacy open to people of whatever sexual orientation. And even if that monograph could be accused of departing from Objectivism, Lindsay is not so wedded to his own "status quo" that he'd allow these publications to be published without comment. My own series on homosexuality, from which the monograph emerged, generated hundreds of comments and criticisms here. This is simply an unprecedented practice on specifically Objectivist organizational websites.
I could go on and on: If Lindsay were so insistent on the "status quo orthodoxy," he'd never have embraced the term "libertarian" to describe the Objectivist politics, and that's another matter that has generated much discussion here.
Lindsay is a passionate guy; he will provide us with the occasional over-the-top response; I myself have been the object of his heated denunciations on several occasions. Despite this, I remain a participant in SOLO. Not because I sanction my own "victimhood"---but because I believe that a forum which provides for the give-and-take is infinitely better than one that simply posts articles as received Truth, while eliciting no reply or criticism.
Mr. Stolyarov seems to insist that he'll keep posting here; that's good! I'd be the last one to insist on the "purging" of dissent. But let's remember that it is because of Lindsay and Joe and others that this site exists.