HOUSTON OBJECTIVISM SOCIETY CHARTER
Members of the Houston Objectivism Society (HOS) agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the HOS Charter. Dues are $20 per year ($10 for full-time students). Dues can be paid via PayPal by clicking here.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Houston Objectivism Society (HOS) is to promote the understanding and spread of the Objectivist philosophy by means of educational activities in the Houston metropolitan area. HOS is not a political organization, and plans no overtly political activities.
Definition of Objectivism
The Objectivist philosophy is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and is presented in full in her works. Those works constitute the definition of Objectivism, and are the intellectual foundation of HOS. HOS has no prerogative to define what Objectivism is. HOS has no intent to engage in original philosophizing, or to publish a philosophical journal.
The following are understood to be the key tenets of Objectivism:
- There is an objective reality independent of man’s consciousness.
- Reason is man’s sole means of knowing reality.
- Rational selfishness is the basis of man’s proper ethical code.
- Individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism are the only basis for a proper social system.
These essentials exclude all of the following:
- Any form of mysticism, theism or religion.
- Any form of subjectivism or skepticism about the possibility of objective knowledge.
- Any advocacy of human sacrifice, whether of oneself to others (altruism) or others to oneself (irrational selfishness).
- Any advocacy of statism (socialism, totalitarianism or the mixed economy), or of anarchy.
In regard to political philosophy, specifically, the above means Objectivism’s repudiation of two current movements: Libertarianism and religious conservatism. As against Libertarianism, Objectivism endorses an objective moral code; a limited, constitutional government; and an anti-Communist foreign policy with a strong national defense. As against today’s typical conservatives, Objectivism upholds the complete separation of Church and State, and the right to abortion; Objectivism opposes prayer in the schools, censorship of obscenity, and a compulsory military draft.
HOS Membership Policy
In keeping with the above understanding of the meaning of Objectivism, HOS rejects mysticism, subjectivism, human sacrifice and statism. Recognizing, however, that Objectivism is an integrated philosophy with complex positions on many specific philosophical issues, HOS has no requirement that its members know or accept all of Objectivism. The only requirement for membership is a serious interest in the study of and dissemination of Objectivism by educational means. As such, our policy about disagreements among members on any of Objectivism’s tenets or the arguments for them will be tolerant. No member shall be excluded for holding different views, presuming, of course, that he conducts himself with appropriate decorum and respect to other members in expressing his views, and abides by the Conditions of Membership policy adopted by the Executive Committee.
In regard to Libertarianism, however, an exception must be made. In today’s cultural context, there is much confusion about the meaning and implications of Objectivism’s political philosophy. Specifically, many people who hear arguments for laissez-faire capitalism from an Objectivist think that he is espousing what the Libertarian Party espouses. This confusion is compounded by the disingenuous way in which some of the Libertarian Party’s members represent the Party as “the political party of Ayn Rand.” Objectivists — who know that politics is a consequence of more fundamental branches of philosophy, rather than a primary — know this to be false. But the general public does not. It is with the goal of eliminating any confusion of this type, and of refusing to sanction those who endorse an antithetical political philosophy, that HOS excludes from membership and attendance at meetings any current member of the Libertarian Party. Such a person is presumed to be more than just confused about what Libertarianism stands for (as some HOS members may be). Such a person is presumed to know the contents of the Libertarian Party platform, and to be supporting it intellectually or financially, or both. Former members of the Libertarian Party, who recognize the incompatibility of Objectivism and Libertarianism, are welcome in HOS.
It is of course true that HOS would not accept membership from those who are also members of, say, the Communist Party or the White Supremacist Party. But in today’s cultural context, there is no need for a policy statement on such groups because their members do not simultaneously attempt to become members of Objectivist organizations, or represent themselves as being allied in some way with Objectivist organizations. Only the Libertarian Party does. Should there arise in the future a need for a broader definition of excluded categories, the Executive Committee will specify one.
HOS’s Emphasis on Education
In summary, HOS’s function is to promote Objectivism in Houston by educational means. That is the purpose of its meetings and activities. We emphasize education over other forms of activism because it is the only method of actually changing a culture in the grip of an incorrect philosophy. No other methods, especially political activity, will achieve the end of establishing a rational philosophy on a broad cultural scale.
By educating ourselves and others, HOS can contribute to changing the culture. In the first few months of its existence, HOS has had a significant impact on Houston. HOS has encouraged the formation of campus Objectivism clubs at both Rice University and the University of Houston. HOS members have had more than two dozen letters published in the Houston newspapers. HOS has notified junior and senior students in 75 high schools of the Ayn Rand Institute’s Fountainhead contest and of HOS’s supplemental $1,000.00 prize. HOS’s members are actively participating in the HOS lending library, and many are taking Dr. Peikoff’s lectures on Objectivism. None of these activities will have an overnight payoff on a cultural scale. They do, however, promote Ayn Rand’s ideas to those who have not heard of them before, and they help each of us to understand and explain to others the things that are happening in the world today. Such efforts, engaged in for many years by us and groups like ours around the country, will have an impact on the culture at large.
Conditions of Membership in HOS
HOS is composed of an Executive Committee and members. The Executive Committee has the exclusive right to set policy for HOS, to plan its activities, and to define the contractual relationship of members to the organization. Members are those who, for a yearly fee determined by the Executive Committee, may receive the HOS newsletter, may use the HOS lending library, and may attend bimonthly meetings. These are the only rights of membership.
Membership in HOS is conditional upon acceptance of the following policy:
- No political activity of any kind is allowed at HOS functions. Political activity will be defined as, but not limited to: distribution of literature for any political party or movement; solicitation of membership or support for any political party or movement.
- Discussion, argumentation and distribution of literature that attempt to undermine the purpose of HOS (as defined in its Statement of Purpose) will not be allowed at HOS meetings. While HOS recognizes and supports the right to disagree, HOS functions are not the proper forum for such activities.
- Any misrepresentation of one’s relationship to HOS, the Ayn Rand Institute or Objectivism will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to: statements, whether implicit or explicit, that one is endorsed by HOS or ARI; any attempt to use membership in HOS for political or financial gain, or to promote any other organization.
- The Executive Committee retains exclusive rights to accept, reject, or end any membership on the basis of the above criteria.
Signed by the HOS Executive Committee on February 23, 1988.