Editorial: A Personal Statement
A little over a week ago as I write this, I was sitting in my apartment with Robert White & Julian Darby, musing over a disagreement I had had with David Kelley, Executive Director of the Institute for Objectivist Studies (IOS) in New York & occasional contributor to this magazine. The IOS was about to become my new employer David had offered me an exciting new position there which I was due to take up on June 1.
The disagreement had been about the propriety of attacking one's adversaries personally something David is always loath to do, concerned as he is with arguing the issue & avoiding ad hominem. My position was that you cannot divorce evil from its practitioners evil is not a platonic abstraction existing in some other dimension independently of the human beings who perpetrate it and that it's perfectly proper to attack them personally precisely for the evil that they are perpetrating & provided one can show that they are indeed doing that, in which case the attacks are not gratuitous or ad hominem. Our disagreement was not especially intense, but it unnerved us both slightly, reminding us of other, related long-standing differences over the IOS's (& my) modus operandi. The IOS see me as too aggressive, uncompromising & rude; I see them, latterly at least, as too timid, appeasing & genteel. We mutually agreed to treat my employment as an "engagement" rather than a "marriage," & that we would review it when my current visa ran out.
In the course of the above-mentioned musings, Robert casually mentioned that the latest issue of the IOS magazine Navigator had just, for the second year in a row, touted New Zealand as the freest country on earth, in its own synthesis of surveys done by various think tanks. I was incredulous. I had spoken twice at IOS seminars about the fatal flaws in NZ's "revolution," showing that overall, we are now more heavily regulated, more highly taxed, more subject to Big Brother intrusions into our lives, than we were before the "revolution" began (see Objectivism Down Under on the IOS web site, and In The Revolution's Twilight on my own); that the "revolution" was never freedom-driven to begin with; and that the trend in New Zealand is now almost entirely anti-freedom. I had also warned of the damage done by the likes of America's Reason & Liberty magazines in falsely heralding New Zealand as being at the forefront of some epoch-making libertarian renaissance. So it was galling enough when Navigator did precisely that the first time, and I & several other NZ Objectivists remonstrated vigorously then; to be told they had done it again left me utterly gob-smacked, especially since I was by now a de facto IOS staff member & no one there had had the courtesy to inform, let alone consult me.
Robert then produced the Navigator in question. Sure enough: "New Zealand wins the gold medal as the freest country on earth." Above this citation, a photograph of a kiwi, with the caption, "Another symbol of freedom."
After spontaneously combusting, I sent the following e-mail to David Kelley:
"The most recent post I sent you was a joyously happy, humorous celebration of our 'engagement' after what we both hoped would prove in the long run to have been a minor tiff. Then, tonight, I saw the latest Navigator, in which Roger Donway once again heralded New Zealand as the freest nation on earth & touted the kiwi that blind, flightless nearly-extinct evolutionary loser that is so appropriately New Zealand's national emblem as a symbol of freedom on a par with the American bald eagle & the twin towers of the trade centre in Manhattan. This article left me shaking with disgust, because of its utter ignorance, stupidity & evasion ...
"To keep himself acquainted with the truth about New Zealand and several correspondents acquainted him with it the first time he published this unconscionable claim all Roger needed to do was spend five minutes once every two months reading the Horror File in the FreeRad. (Or speak to me.) But I gather from another of Roger's comments in Navigator that Horror Files are out; they're not nice. Never mind the truth; if it's not nice, let's not frighten the horses by pointing it out. David, harking back to our tiff, this IS weasel-worded appeasement of evil, & I utterly despise it. The truth about NZ, to repeat for the zillionth time, is NOT nice. It is the FACT of ever-climbing overall tax rates; record yearly numbers of new regulations & controls; an IRD whose bullying has driven more & more people to bankruptcy and/or suicide (perhaps Roger would like to tell Mrs. Ian Mutton that we are the freest country on earth she is the widow of the latest IRD-driven suicide, & her 11-year-old son also killed himself eight months later, unable to face life without his dad); a Resource Management Act that has effectively nationalised land in this country; an education system rife with anti-rationality, Political Correctness & dumbing down; a 'justice' system that imprisons vast numbers of people for victimless crimes while exonerating real criminals on grounds of 'cultural sensitivity'; the suppression of free speech to the point where the cigar magazine Aficionado has just been banned because it 'promotes smoking' and on & on & on. To hold up such a contemptible statist backwater as the 'freest country on earth,' & its silly emblem as a 'symbol of freedom,' is to make an utter mockery of the term 'freedom' & of objectivity itself. I will have no truck with people who do that when a little effort & a little integrity would/should dissuade them from uttering such unspeakable drivel.
"In my very first salvo to you I expressed my concern that the IOS was New-Aging Objectivism beyond the point of recognisability. I do believe you have fallen prey to faddish 'marketers,' with their absurd, time-wasting mumbo-jumbo & psycho-babble, & it saddens me more than I can say. But realising now just HOW right I was at least leaves me free henceforth to continue being myself not some tepid, sanitised, 'respectable' shell thereof.
"In inexpressible heart-break & frustration Lindsay."
My purpose here is not to justify, but to explain. So there's more. While all this was going on, a very close family member & a very close friend were both diagnosed as having cancer. I didn't want to leave them behind in those circumstances. Radio Pacific's Programme Director and even some callers were entreating me not to leave. It became less easy to leave them behind. Then there were the party members who, even though they knew the party was in fine shape with dynamic new leaders, wept into their wines as they sent me late-night e-mails. That really got to me. All in all, it seemed better to stay. We have an election to fight, state-worshippers to smite (IOS notwithstanding) & our freedom to win.
So, for better or for worse, here I am & here I shall remain. As myself.
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