Dear Friend of TOS,
I’m writing to ask for your support in defense of your values.
For seven years, The Objective Standard has consistently delivered high-quality, in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective. We’ve gotten the journal into more than a hundred libraries—including those of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and many other top universities—and onto more than seven hundred newsstands across North America. Our articles are increasingly used in college classrooms, reprinted in books (nineteen in the past four years), and referenced in other publications and media. Our website—which houses the most extensive collection of articles in support of a civilized society on the Web—now attracts more than 39,000 unique visitors per month (up 95 percent from a year ago). And our special events—such as the forthcoming debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Andrew Bernstein on “Christianity: Good or Bad for Mankind?”—extend the principles of Objectivism even further into the limelight, where they belong.
In short, TOS is introducing more and more people to Objectivism—and doing so in a way that makes it stick.
That last point is crucial. Our goal is to change the culture by spreading the right ideas, but The Objective Standard’s approach is unique. Our strategy is not to say, “Here’s a philosophy you should accept and embrace…” or “Here are books you should read to learn what’s right…” Rather, our approach is to say, in effect, “Here are things that matter to you and your loved ones—education, the economy, business-crippling regulations, freedom of speech, beautiful art, the Islamist threat, and so on—and here are crucial principles that help you to better understand these issues, to pursue and enjoy your values, and to articulate and protect your rights.” Articles in The Objective Standard and posts on TOS Blog are written and edited specifically with this strategy in mind: to meet people at their legitimate values and show them how rational principles apply to and support these values.
(We occasionally publish articles focusing on Objectivism itself; but, even then, the ideas are always presented in relation to the reader’s values. For instance, my recent article, “Ayn Rand: America’s Comeback Philosopher,” appeals to the reader’s concern for the future of America.)
Why is this approach so important? Because appealing to people’s rational self-interest is the only legitimate way to motivate them—and because demonstrating the practical significance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is the best way to sell it. When people discover and integrate Objectivism in connection with their values, they tend to embrace it as the observation-based, life-serving tool that it is, rather than as a new dogma or set of commandments; thus, they are more likely to adopt it first-handedly and permanently.
Observe that millions of people have read Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s other works, but few have come to understand the radical nature and practical significance of her ideas. Clearly it is not enough for people to read her books. In order to grasp and integrate the principles of Objectivism, people need to see how the ideas apply to their everyday lives and values. TOS is dedicated to showing just that.
For an indication of how effective TOS is in this respect, here are a few unsolicited testimonials from readers:
“Having just found Ayn Rand several years ago (and become a huge fan), I want to let you know how much I enjoy The Objective Standard. It helps me to crystallize and understand the philosophy.” —Benjamin G.
“I am relatively new to the ideas of Objectivism, and the articles [in TOS] have helped to clarify both the theory behind the philosophy and the practical implications of its principles. Seeing how the principles apply to real-life issues and current events makes them much easier to understand and to explain to others.” —Kendall B.
“I received a gift subscription to TOS a few weeks ago from a local Objectivist I met at a town hall meeting. Though I was raised on Ayn Rand, I would not call myself an Objectivist presently. However, after receiving the summer issue, which I devoured in three days, that may change. This is a great journal, and the articles are interesting and clearly written with a compelling point of view. I had forgotten what a pleasure it is to read good, well-written prose on a variety of subjects.” —Elisheva L.
We receive such feedback regularly. TOS is reaching—and moving—minds. But we need to reach and move more minds. And to do so, we need your help.
Producing a journal, website, and blog of this quality is costly, and although our revenues continue to grow (even in this dismal economy), our expenses still exceed our income. For 2012, our expenses were $199,000, and revenues were $147,000, rendering a deficit of $52,000. At this point, TOS has taken on as much debt as it reasonably can; thus, until we break even, we must supplement our revenues with donations.
Although TOS has only recently begun asking for donations, other intellectual magazines—such as The American Spectator, Commentary, Democracy, and Reason—have, of necessity, always done so. According to their publicly available non-profit reports: The American Spectator, with a budget of $2.6 million, receives $1.1 million in donations; Commentary, with a budget of $3.2 million, receives $1.9 million in donations; Democracy, with a budget of $469,000, receives $481,000 in donations; and Reason, with a budget of $7.7 million, receives $7.1 million in donations.
The foregoing are “non-profit” organizations, but many “for-profit” publications, such as National Review, rely on donations as well. Although technically a for-profit business, National Review has never made a profit; it covers its expenses by means of donations from conservatives who want to spread conservative ideas. National Review maintains a for-profit status for the same reason The Objective Standard does: so it can exercise full freedom of speech with respect to political issues—including freedom to endorse candidates and advocate policy, which non-profits are forbidden to do.
The reason all of these intellectual magazines and journals must seek donations to support their work is that their periodical sales don’t come close to covering their expenses. This, however, is not a problem for them (look again at those numbers), because plenty of conservatives, “liberals,” and libertarians know that ideas move the world; they recognize the importance of a periodical that elucidates and spreads their ideas; thus, they are willing to financially support a publication dedicated to their cause.
TOS needs the support of people dedicated to our cause.
In order for TOS to continue operating—in order for us to continue producing The Objective Standard, publishing TOS Blog, delivering our crystal-clear commentary, expanding our reach, changing people’s minds, and fighting for your values—we need financial support from people like you, people who recognize the vital nature of what we do and the importance of getting Ayn Rand’s ideas into the mainstream.
As Ayn Rand noted, “When you write an article in which you evaluate cultural phenomena rationally, you do more for Objectivism than you could in any other form.” By extension, when you support a periodical that produces a constant stream of such articles, you do more to defend your values than you could by any other means.
Please take a minute and make a donation to help us continue and expand our fight for a culture of reason and freedom. (Even small donations make a difference.) In return, we promise to continue fighting for the future with everything we have.
Thank you for your consideration, and warmest wishes for the New Year.
Craig Biddle, Editor