Betsy Speicher

Personal Activism

29 posts in this topic

This new topic is for posting YOUR personal activist projects.

What are YOU doing to change the culture?

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I had a little moment of activism today: I got into a discussion about the election with some of the kids in the class I was covering. They were all excited about Obama winning, and were all for him taking money away from "rich people" and handing it out to others, especially themselves. By the end of the conversation, though, I had them seriously pondering the question, "Who should decide what to do with your money, you or Obama?" I got a "Nobody's gonna tell me what to do!" out of one of them, and the rest were at least beginning to question their previous devotion.

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By the end of the conversation, though, I had them seriously pondering the question, "Who should decide what to do with your money, you or Obama?" I got a "Nobody's gonna tell me what to do!" out of one of them, and the rest were at least beginning to question their previous devotion.

Way to go, piz! You invoked the powerful magic word that can effectively oppose and destroy every socialist welfare-state scheme:

Mine!

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I haven't thought of it as a personal activist project, but I've been more active in throwing out some good ideas or questions when the opportunity presents itself. Especially when it's over the internet, now that many of my coworkers, family, and friends are all networked through Facebook. I've had a success here and there, like... I got my mother to read Craig Biddle's "Loving Life," I wrote a small Earth Day blog post that was read over the radio back in April, and I even convinced few people to run from Obama in the voting booth. If you're positive in the way you present Objectivist ideas, most people are receptive. Sometimes they'll be very receptive, since the ideas are so different and direct.

Also, I started a bi-weekly Objectivist discussion group that's been meeting in the Kansas City area for over five years. Check us out if you're ever in the area...

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Also, I started a bi-weekly Objectivist discussion group that's been meeting in the Kansas City area for over five years. Check us out if you're ever in the area...

I was born in Kansas City, though I haven't been there since we moved to PA when I was about 3. I'll look you up if I ever "go home" again. ^_^

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When people complain either about the quality of public schools, or the price of privates, or how high their real estate taxes are getting because of the ever-escalating price of ever-plummeting public education, I talk to them about vouchers. "That would work and save money" is the answer I get when I'm granted enough time to explain the whole thing. (In my limited experience, tax credits are a far harder sell.)

ASIDE: I used to work in a gourmet market in an upper middle class neighborhood that gave away an iced tea if customers could answer the trivia question of the day. Once, I asked for the name of the second most influential book in America as determined by a recent Library of Congress-Readers Digest poll. I got about 100 "interesting"s mixed in with several "I should read her again"s. One regular customer went nuts when I gave her the answer. "That's a horrible book!! I don't believe the poll." Her profession? High School principal.

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I have a good friend in San Diego that I am helping along intellectually. I think he is Good Objectivist Material. I'm going to put a reading list together for him that includes, of course, some Ayn Rand. He's ready.

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Darren and I are teaching an "Introduction to Objectivism" class in a non-credit, adult education program here at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We had our first class last month, with a turnout of six very good, very interested students. We liked it enough to do it again next "semester" in January. I don't think of it as changing the culture as much as giving those few who are genuinely interested in Ayn Rand's ideas the intellectual ammunition to surmount what the culture throws at them.

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So far, I'm cleaning my own house first:


I removed my daughter from Public School and enrolled her in a decent Montessori school. The school she was in was heavily promoting Environmentalism and was failing with teaching her the fundamentals of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.


I've recently introduced Ayn Rand's Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged to my very bright nephew. He's been bombarded with environmentalist propaganda at his public school, so hopefully I've given him the intellectual firewall he needs.

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I like the approach of Jason, Kurt, and Joe, above, and that is my own strategy: changing the culture one mind at a time. The culture is, after all, only a collection of individuals.

Objectivism will succeed the same way The Fountainhead did:

The success of The Fountainhead has demonstrated its own thesis. It was rejected by twelve publishers who declared that it had no commercial possibilities, it would not sell, it was "too intellectual," it was "too unconventional," it went against every alleged popular trend. Yet the success of The Fountainhead was made by the public. Not by the public as an organized collective—but by single, individual readers who discovered it of their own choice, who read it on their own initiative and recommended it on their own judgment.

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An easy way to promote good ideas is to contact the Counselor or scholarship advisor at your local highschool and offer to help any students who are attempting the Ayn Rand essay contests. It is very rewarding too. It seems to be such a relief to students who grasp the ideas in AS and FH to see an adult who shares their love of the characters and doesn't trivialize their response to the novels. And for many students, a little help with focus is all it takes for them to complete the novels, and, of course, Ayn Rand does the rest.

I caution that you want to remember at all times when helping in this way that your knowledge of Ayn Rand's ideas can dwarf a young minds early attempts at grasping at essentials, so always try to remember that they will need to learn and discover the ideas themselves. They can't be forced to 'get it.' I don't know if that would be a common problem, but it is a potential pitfall for someone trying to help.

In this approach, I would say that 90% of your work will be simply encouraging the student to think in essentials, which most of them have been dying to do anyways, so it is a very natural and fun process.

Besides working with students, I have handed out more copies of Fountainhead than I can remember. I buy every copy that I find at used bookstores and just keep a stash ready. I am proud to say I am running low right now. ^_^

Also, I am working on a brochure to distribute that outlines a moral-economic-political case against rural towns prioritizing tourism over resource harvesting. That may seem like a severely delimited field, but I have lived in numerous small western towns in Idaho, Washington and Alaska, and all of them have their roots firmly in logging, mining, fishing, etc. None of them still maintain those industries, and all of them have turned, with varying degrees of success, to tourism as their primary industry. I am still in the outlining phase of determining the essentials of the argument, but my goal is to make a case for the First Producers in a long causal chain of creation, and show that doing less than holding them up as the highest standard of morality is to undercut one's own economic well-being. I will update as I make progress.

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As I've discussed elsewhere I'm currently working on my Masters in Criminal Justice (recently switched to a Homeland Security specialization that has been offered, to improve my chances at a job). I've discovered that theory tends to be very, very bad, and this has really provided me with a chance to flex my mental "muscles". There is one professor who I've enjoyed discussing ideas with and was lucky enough to get him for three classes: Criminal Justice Research, Ethics, and now I'm in the final week of Criminological Theory. I introduced Ayn Rand into discussion explicitly only in the Ethics class (where it was appropriate), and he was fascinated and particularly enjoyed her conception of the rational trader. I thought I was going to dread the class, but my professor told me privately that he always looked forward to reading my assignments because he gets tired of the same old predictable ideas from other students. In all the classes the environment has been open to expressing constructive criticism, but my discussions in classes with this teacher have been especially stimulating and I think beneficial for both of us. It's not clear whether the other students are paying much attention, though.

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In my observations and work on bettering the IB programme, students who choose the Diploma programme tend to 1) have the desire to think independently 2) be ambitious to create themselves and meaningful work 3) consider ideas, doing “good things”, achievement and epistemology important. Many of them choose IB because the programme allows a large degree of independent study and numerous take-it-as-far-as-you-want projects, and allow missed classes in encouragement to pursue individual academic course-related interests. Students make their own literature choices (from various reading lists), theses and essay topics, are introduced to epistemology, formal logic, ethics and philosophical debate. Many exams are objectively and externally graded by an examiner in another state or country. Examiners in Higher Level courses have one-on-one discussions with students on their theses and independent course work.

Some students who love the novels and love thinking may not want to enter the essay competitions because they do not need the small amount of money offered when they need time for other productive work and/or do not accept an external party's judgement of the worth of their thoughts.

I therefore focus the minimal time I have on the efforts I believe are most likely to reach individual minds willing and able to grasp, appreciate and apply Objectivism. A complete set of Ayn Rand's works are provided to the IB-participating schools (they can be public, private or charter) that would like free books in the class to complement novels provided by ARI. Currently, the 4 IB schools that have agreed to accept a library of Ayn Rand's works find The Art of Non-Fiction, The Virtue of Selfishness and The New Intellectual their most popular signouts. I am attempting to have at least one Ayn Rand novel (or Anthem) included on an IB reading list, whether for the English lit or Middle Years programme.

I have homeschooled since 1996, and I refer to RM in art sales and auctions.

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I have done a number of things since Obama was elected to promote Objectivism.

I have challenged the ideas of my nearest acquaintances at home and work whenever appropriate. I am often forced to take Ayn Rand's advice and say, "I do not agree with you on that." Many have deep felt resentment to individualism and to continue in a discussion would be futile.

I resolved to write a letter to the editor at least once a month.

I have also 'joined' the local paper's on-line community so that I could add my perspective. I am able to write comments related to other's LTEs. This interaction has allowed me to connect with some who share some of my ideas (though they do not follow Objectivism). I have also found a liberal leaning centrist who has entered reasonable exchanges with me. I have no hope of changing his mind, but at least I have caught him in some of his faulty logic. If nothing else, he has had to re-think his views.

I have started the Fox Valley Objectivists Club (www.fvobjectivists.com) in January of this year. I am open to any suggestions you may have for format and content. We meet once a month and have seen at least one new face at each meeting.

SIDEBAR: My LTEs and comments on the newspaper web site attracted the attention of Marc Savard. He is going to run for the 8th Congressional District (WI) (savardforcongress.com) hoping to unseat Dem. Rep. Steve Kagen. He has joined several of our FVO club meetings. Boy, would that be an achievement! Influence a Congressional candidate and get him elected to Congress in 2010!

I hope to expand the scope of the FVO club to provide outreach to the local middle and high schools, but I am taking it one step at a time. I like one suggestion from this topic - contact the councilor or scholarship person at the schools. I was kind of at a loss where to start the conversation with the schools (English Dept?).

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I hope to expand the scope of the FVO club to provide outreach to the local middle and high schools, but I am taking it one step at a time. I like one suggestion from this topic - contact the councilor or scholarship person at the schools. I was kind of at a loss where to start the conversation with the schools (English Dept?).

Contact the Ayn Rand Institute for information about their free books for teachers programs and their essay contests. Both are projects you can promote and sponsor locally and get a warm welcome and cooperation from your local schools.

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This new topic is for posting YOUR personal activist projects.

What are YOU doing to change the culture?

Well I did publish this fine work

Single acts of tyranny

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This new topic is for posting YOUR personal activist projects.

What are YOU doing to change the culture?

Also as I am overly fond of the sound of my own voice (!) and have recently learned video editing, myself and a friend are putting up a pro free market video on youtube as part of that competition that was trailed on this website

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I've fairly recently become quite good friends with a guy a couple years younger than I here in Sydney. While he is not overtly philosophical, he is thoughtful and open to ideas when they're presented in a friendly and nonthreatening way. Just about every Thursday evening after work we go out for a few glasses of wine and a bite to eat and discuss everything under the sun. Mostly it's personal topics - the relationships we've had and what we look for in potential partners - but often it becomes more fundamental. This is where I am able to ask key questions about altruism versus egoism, which to me is more important than politics. Never do I browbeat him or ridicule whatever knowledge gaps he has. On many occasions he's remarked that our conversations have gotten him to think about topics on a level he never considered before.

To me, this is what the fight is about: reaching an individual mind and offering an alternative to the mind numbing status quo. It's heartening to make friends with someone willing to entertain different ideas without being hostile or dogmatically committed to what the culture offers up today.

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This new topic is for posting YOUR personal activist projects.

What are YOU doing to change the culture?

This is a great presentation, really worth looking at and it explains not only the non-science that is AGW but it shows the financial reasons why banks now rather like Carbon trading (in 5 years its worth more than oil trading according to the authors and it's all fiat currency of course)

Why the banks want you to believe in global warming...

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I posted the following comment on Senator Jim Webb's(U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 68) article at Parade Magazine.

Why We Must Fix Our Prisons

I think it is courageous for Senator Webb to take on this issue. However, as long as Mr. Webb does not recognize that drug use is up to each individual to decide than this problem will never be resolved. The government cannot legislate morality. Want to fix the problem than recognize that the fundamental issue here is a man's individual right to decide what he can and can not put into his body.

In other words, the proper solution is to legalize drugs and let each individual make their choice and either benefit or suffer from that decision. That is fairness.

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I posted the following comment on Senator Jim Webb's(U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 68) article at Parade Magazine.

Why We Must Fix Our Prisons

I think it is courageous for Senator Webb to take on this issue. However, as long as Mr. Webb does not recognize that drug use is up to each individual to decide than this problem will never be resolved. The government cannot legislate morality. Want to fix the problem than recognize that the fundamental issue here is a man's individual right to decide what he can and can not put into his body.

In other words, the proper solution is to legalize drugs and let each individual make their choice and either benefit or suffer from that decision. That is fairness.

Sir, you talk more sense on drug policy than any mainstream politician in the last 30 years. Very nearly put if I may say.

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Sir, you talk more sense on drug policy than any mainstream politician in the last 30 years. Very nearly put if I may say.

More NEATLY than me (nearly ~ doh!)

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I think that being active in non Objectivist forums can be of major value.

I recently began posting more actively in the political discussions of a forum I frequent.

Before and after my lengthy remarks made on the extreme I could see a notable shift in the discussion, the people who felt moderately about freedom became more vocal.

And this happens in a Democracy VS Capitalism thread, of all places!

Now that the thread is falling down (with me as the last post) the percentages were 77.17% for democracy and 22.83% for capitalism. :)

Of course those don't all agree with our definition of it (some even said they only chose capitalism for the living standard), but I think I did get it trough that any amount of capitalism always means that there is a certain amount of respect for individual rights. :D

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I am giving a consistent, reasoned voice to laissez-faire on a (very popular) web board that I frequent. I felt compelled to be more vocal against threats to liberty after the past presidential election was decided. Not that there was a much better alternative.

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