To Publish or Not To Publish
In the comments section for today's post on the Ayn Rand Centenary, a "fan" left a comment that carries with it quite a few implications. I don't wish to place this current post in the category of "over-reaction," but I take it that the "fan" has a problem with the forum on which my Rand Centenary piece appears. "Fan" writes:
Too bad you picked that site for it. I would have liked to read it but there are just some places i won't go.
The site that fan refers to is SOLO HQ. I write a regular column for The Free Radical, as you may know, and SOLO HQ is, in many respects, an online extension of that magazine. The two were, of course, founded by the same person, Lindsay Perigo, who has been a friend and colleague for many years.
In truth, however, I have many significant differences with Lindsay on many issues, as I do with many other people who have published in The Free Radical and on SOLO HQ. But this is not unusual. I also blog occasionally at the Mises Economics Blog and at the Liberty & Power Group Blog, and I have significant differences with many of the people who contribute to those forums as well. In the past, I've even contributed to Marxist forums. In fact, back in the 1990s, I was a cofounder of an Internet discussion group called "marxism-thaxis," which continues to thrive (though I no longer participate). "Thaxis" was actually my little neologism: a combination of "THeory" and "prAXIS."
What this comes down to is the implementation of a little piece of wisdom that was best summed up by my friend and colleague Wendy McElroy. She once said to me that she'd publish in Pravda if they printed her essays uncensored and with full attribution.
We live in a world of many different perspectives, and on the Internet, when so much that is offered is free to view (you don't have to pay in order to view certain sites), it can sometimes be effective to publish in a variety of venues. You may sometimes be perceived as a "fish out of water" in some of those venues, but the fact that some readers might be exposed to your work who might not otherwise even know of it, can be an incentive.
I go on about this at some length because it is often a pressing issue, in Rand circles especially, not to "sanction" certain venues because of who participates there, or the kinds of views that might be represented there.
My own thoughts on this subject have evolved over time. In the beginning stages of my writing career, I used to take on all comers in virtually all relevant venues. I always made a habit of "taking the high road," and I sometimes did this in the face of some very severe and personal insults.
Though I still try to take the high road, I have learned a bit more about how my "tolerance" for insults gave a "sanction" to those who fed off my good will and tried to use it against me. In such circumstances, the outright hatred for me and my point of view was so lethal that I learned to ignore it and to remove myself from such forums.
I may still give people the benefit of the doubt and I may even answer an insulting comment on a public forum for the benefit of those who might not know better. But after one or two tries, if it gets really personal or is very hateful or insulting, I've become very "Zen-like" about it: I just move on and ignore it. And in truth, it has taken years to get to the Roarkian point of feeling in most such instances: "But I don't think of you."
In the end, people's hatred and venom says more about them; beyond a certain point, however, outright insults, rudeness, and lethal personal attacks ought to be met with silence and nonparticipation. The alternative is to engage in a public pissing contest with people, which only degenerates further, and in which you risk losing a part of your own soul.
So here's my rule of thumb: As long as I am not treated disrespectfully, I'll participate in any forum that will have me. At SOLO HQ, for the most part, I have not been treated disrespectfully. There have been exceptions to this, and when these have occurred, I have simply withdrawn from such discussions in that forum and in other forums as well. Besides which, I have an inordinate amount of work to do and a limited number of hours in which to do it, and I have always prioritized my work because of this. (Ah, and if you'd like to learn more about why prioritizing is so important to me, given certain significant constraints with which I must deal, you'll need to actually navigate to the article link I posted this morning!)
All of this said, one of the reasons I call "Notablog" my home (as I have discussed here) is that it is the only place on the web in which I am completely at home. I often "cross-post" my entries to other forums (or vice versa) so that my regular readers might have a single place to reference my work. But having a home doesn't preclude me from dropping by other places to spread my particular brand of cheer.
I hope readers will take this into account anytime they have second thoughts about not visiting those other places with me.
So, fan, despite offering only two sentences of commentary, you've inspired a whole post in response. If anything, it proves that I take my fans seriously, and that I practice the "dialogical" virtues I extol as part of the very dialectical perspective I offer.