The Ayn Rand Center is working to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualist, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. ARC’s programs are gaining momentum, already challenging and even starting to reverse the trends that dominate contemporary culture and threaten our liberty—ideologies such as collectivism, moral relativism and multiculturalism.
But what ARC can do on its own is not enough.
For Ayn Rand’s message to have its largest possible influence, your help is needed to spread ARC’s views and content to non-Objectivists who are open to reason. Ayn Rand’s ideas should be brought up, discussed and applied in every corner of American life—from the boardroom to the classroom to the coffee shop to the mainstream media.
What Is Activism?
Cultural Activism means actively promoting rational ideas throughout the culture, from education to science, from the art world to the media to public policy, all for the purpose of bringing about a cultural renaissance.
To fight an intellectual battle, Ayn Rand held, requires waging an educational campaign. But to do that, one must first make sure one understands the ideas one seeks to advocate. “If you want to influence a country’s intellectual trend, the first step is to bring order to your own ideas and integrate them into a consistent case, to the best of your knowledge and ability. This does not mean memorizing and reciting slogans and principles, Objectivist or otherwise: knowledge necessarily includes the ability to apply abstract principles to concrete problems, to recognize the principles in specific issues, to demonstrate them, and to advocate a consistent course of action. This does not require omniscience or omnipotence; it is the subconscious expectation of automatic omniscience in oneself and in others that defeats many would-be crusaders (and serves as an excuse for doing nothing). What is required is honesty—intellectual honesty, which consists in knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one’s knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.” (From “What Can One Do?” in Philosophy: Who Needs It)
Whom Should I Try to Influence?
Focus on rational individuals. For maximum effect, engage non-Objectivists who are interested in the same issues that concern you. Remember that when Ayn Rand wrote her articles, she was addressing the better minds, those who were open to reason and open to being influenced by new ideas. Promote and defend your values with thoughtful, polite, considered responses aimed at convincing the better minds—not those who are hostile to reason or Ayn Rand.
How Should I Address Them?
Read Ayn Rand’s advice on “Judging One’s Audience” and “Applying Philosophy Without Preaching It” in The Art of Nonfiction.
Ayn Rand as Intellectual Activist
Ayn Rand herself engaged in intellectual activism in the years following the publication of Atlas Shrugged. She gave dozens of talks, appeared on TV and radio and wrote op-eds and, of course, wrote brilliant nonfiction essays in books and newsletters.
Read Ayn Rand’s article “What Can One Do?” in Philosophy Who Needs It, for advice on bringing about a more rational culture.
For more inspiration and intellectual ammunition, read Ayn Rand’s essay “Don’t Let It Go,” also in Philosophy: Who Needs It, about preserving the American sense of life.
What Can I Do?
There are as many opportunities for Objectivists to make an impact in the media and on public policy as there are issues and people discussing them. Objectivists can and should write letters-to editors, to corporations, to public figures and to political representatives. Moreover, the Internet and the blogosphere in particular have opened up thousands of new outlets for the unfettered expression of opinion. Longer essays, public speaking and issue activism can all lead to media and policy impact.
As Ayn Rand writes in “What Can One Do?”: “[W]hen you ask ‘What can one do?’—the answer is ‘SPEAK’ (provided you know what you are saying).”
A few suggestions: do not wait for a national audience. Speak on any scale open to you, large or small—to your friends, your associates, your professional organizations, or any legitimate public forum. You can never tell when your words will reach the right mind at the right time. You will see no immediate results—but it is of such activities that public opinion is made.
Again from Ayn Rand’s “What Can One Do?”: “Do not pass up a chance to express your views on important issues. Write letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines, to TV and radio commentators and, above all, to your Congressmen (who depend on their constituents). If your letters are brief and rational (rather than incoherently emotional), they will have more influence than you suspect.”
The Internet and the blogosphere have opened up thousands of new outlets for unfettered expression of opinion. Longer essays, public speaking and issue activism can all lead to media and policy impact.
Join a community group
You can join or start an Objectivist community group, and that can facilitate discussion of Ayn Rand’s ideas with a larger audience.
Activism need not take hours. If your time is limited, here are just a few suggestions for ways you can help promote Ayn Rand’s ideas:
- Point people to this Web site and our substantial collection of free Ayn Rand audio and video recordings
- Point people to articles on the Ayn Rand Lexicon site, the largest collection of Ayn Rand’s philosophical writings on the Web
- Link to ARC’s videos, articles and op-eds on influential blogs
- Respond to articles about Ayn Rand in the media with a brief letter to the editor
Cultural Activism in Action: Health Care
For ARC resources on Healthcare, visit our Health Care page.
As examples of activist groups whose work and success is grounded in Objectivism, here are two organizations that work to make a difference in the field of health care.
Americans for Free Choice in Medicine
Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM) is a national grass-roots 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 to provide a defense of the rights of physicians to practice medicine as they think best, and of patients to make their own decisions in seeking health care without infringement of those rights by government. Public education in the form of letters and opinion pieces in national and major metropolitan newspapers and media interviews is the primary program. AFCM's web site also serves as a resource for all those who seek to base health care policy on American values and a principled moral stand for individual freedom and personal choice. See AFCM's website for more information.
Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine
Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM) is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization that promotes the philosophy of individual rights, personal responsibility, and free market economics in health care. FIRM holds that the only moral and practical way to obtain medical care is that of individuals choosing and paying for their own medical care in a capitalist free market. FIRM has a blog, and serves as a resource of information about moral health care. See FIRM's website for more information.
(Please note that while the Institute encourages donor activism, we do not endorse any outside e-mail lists or websites.)
Can We Change the Culture?
On being successful in changing the culture, watch Yaron Brook discussing ARI’s cultural impact.
To find out about ARC events, go to the ARC Events page.