At a time when a highly infectious biological virus, the coronavirus, is spreading – as is an equally infectious psychological virus, panic – I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out with a message on what we at The Atlas Society are doing to respond to both.
First, we are recommitting to core values, including reason, productivity, benevolent self-interest, and achievement. Reason starts with a recognition that reality exists, that A is A – and in a time when our best epidemiological understanding of the “A” of COVID-19 is evolving, we are taking individual measures with each member of our team to be safe so that we can continue to ramp up the increased impact The Atlas Society has had in engaging the next generation with the ideas of Ayn Rand in creative ways.
Far from backing down or slowing work on any project, we are doubling down on productivity, and taking advantage of this time to work on large-scale projects that require time and thought, such as writing The Pocket Guide to Postmodernism, speeding production of RED PAWN: The Graphic Novel and moving forward on a Hebrew translation of ANTHEM: The Graphic Novel. You’ll hear from me in the coming months with updates on the progress of these projects – and more.
Just as Sir Isaac Newton made some of his greatest discoveries in math and physics while self-quarantined during the Great Plague of London (which decimated nearly a quarter of the city's population in 1665-1666), we are inspired to increase our impact – with new videos, new publications, and new online learning content – in the weeks and months ahead, so that as the current crisis runs its course, The Atlas Society will emerge even stronger and more committed than before.
Fortunately we are already uniquely positioned to increase impact with minimal disruption thanks to four factors:
The Atlas Society has been virtually organized – with a distributed team working collaboratively via communication and project management technologies – for several years. Our small size and entrepreneurial, iterative approach to advancing ideas in new formats to new audiences means that we are positioned to take risks, fail fast, learn faster, and scale.
While cancellation of conferences where we exhibit, and the closure of schools where we deploy speakers and recruit Atlas Advocates, will necessarily limit our in-person engagement with young people, we’re capitalizing on this moment. As more and more people seek community in these isolating times through online channels, The Atlas Society is poised to expand distribution and engagement with our content. Case in point, our video “My Name is Chip Wilson” has outperformed all previous video launches, drawing half a million views across platforms, and over 475K views on Facebook alone in the last two weeks. Two new videos have been scripted this week, with our next produced video scheduled for launch this month.
Our relatively new deployment of two online educational programs – our signature Waterfall campaign pioneered by Senior Scholar Stephen Hicks Ph.D., and our Atlas Intellectuals online video conferences hosted by Senior Editor Marilyn Moore, Ph.D. – provide additional virtual opportunities to take a deeper dive into the ideas of Ayn Rand, and further explore hot topics of the day from our unique perspective. These two initiatives have grown significantly since launch late last year, and the necessities of the current crisis have both poised for greater traction.
Attitude. Those of you who have been involved with The Atlas Society for decades – and those who have flocked to our banner in the past several years – know exactly what I’m talking about. Within the greater Objectivist community and larger libertarian space, The Atlas Society is known for a unique sensibility. Whether laid out in philosophical detail in the seminal Truth and Toleration, by our Founder, David Kelley, Ph.D, reflected in our relentless outreach to and growing partnerships with groups across the ideological spectrum, or whether encapsulated by the latest edgy and irreverent memes, we live our values by embracing benevolence, cheerfulness, gratitude, spunk, and humor. We take ideas seriously – but we try not to take ourselves too seriously – and have found an open spirit of intellectual engagement to be our most valuable and renewable resource.
That attitude was most magnificently articulated in Ayn Rand’s favorite poem, which she requested to be read by David Kelley, Ph.D, at her memorial as the only form of eulogy. That poem, of course, is Rudyard Kipling’s immortal paean to perseverance: “If.” It’s worth revisiting in full – and repeating as a daily meditation – in the weeks ahead. I hope you will join me, and “keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/ ...trust yourself when all men doubt you/ But make allowance for their doubting too/ ….or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,/ And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”
We have the tools, we have the team, and we have the conviction and confidence to conquer adversity, and emerge stronger than ever before. And we never forget that the work is made possible by the donors who continue to invest in The Atlas Society, for which we’re profoundly grateful. Please help us provide a return on that investment and support our commitment to sharing Objectivist principles with young people by donating to our work today through our secure online portal.
Thank you for your continued partnership, which allows our work to continue because we have conviction that individual ingenuity, innovation, and the resilience of our free market will pull us through. While the government takes appropriate measures to protect safety, we will relentlessly teach young people that it is the entrepreneurs, the scientists, the artists – all the men and women of creative ability – who are responsible for advancing civilization, and we will continue to defend the principles that make true progress possible.
Grit, grace and gratitude,
Jennifer Anju Grossman