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What's in a Name: 'Moral Defense' becomes 'Advancement'
[August 5, 2002]

By Nicholas Provenzo

If you are a regular visitor to us, by now you probably realize we've renamed our group to "The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism" as well as overhauled our website. I think both measures bode well for the kind of intellectual activism that we have been engaged in for the over four years since our founding.

We decided to change our name from "The Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism" to "The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism" because we think the idea of "advancement" better captures the spirit and mission of our organization. We found the original name of "Moral Defense" implied a passive, reactive group that responded to threats. "Moral Defense of Capitalism" also implied that we have capitalism today, If you read just one of our articles or essays, you will probably agree that's far from the case.

Our original idea was since there are many groups that attempt to make the practical case for capitalism that ultimately fail because they do not address the larger, moral questions surrounding individualism and freedom, we were not going to make the same mistake. In fact, we intended to focus our group explicitly on the moral issues of the day.

In practice though, our name did not help us. Besides being a mouthful, it simply confused many of the people we were trying to impact with our argument. Some people thought we were we a religious group. Others did not understand the moral/practical dichotomy that infects our culture and was the premise behind our name. While Objectivists clearly grasp that moral behavior is practical in the long term, many non-Objectivists don't understand the importance of that point. If in the mere act of introducing yourself you leave your audience confused, it makes your work that much harder.

We think "Advancement" solves the problems we have been having. "Advancement" implies a rising tide. We are not just defending our values; we seek to advance them throughout our nation's institutions. We work to achieve the freedom inherent in capitalism today— not in some nebulous and distant future—and our group takes the daily steps necessary to achieve our goal. Our tools remain the same; we make philosophic arguments for individualism and freedom by focusing on the contemporary political questions of the day and we provide the means for like-minded individuals to do the same. In the end however, new name makes our message that much clearer.

Which brings me to my second point, the overhaul of our website. Our primary means of communication is web based and the Center has used this to our advantage in two ways. Our website's visitors rely on us to keep them up to date on cultural and political trends, and we rely on our website's visitors to use that information to help communicate a pro-capitalism message to our political and media leaders. We are not just a think tank, we are an activist group in that leverages our grassroots supporters to advance our overall arguments.

The Center has built many resources that make it easy for our visitors to engage in their own activism. Primary among them is our "Government & Media Action Center." This site allows our Internet visitors complete access to their elected officials. By entering your zip code, you can view your senators and representatives pictures, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, staff, committee assignments, voting records, and more. In addition to elected officials, you can locate and contact local and national media in all 50 states.

We also have introduced our daily web journal "Initium" which means "start" in Latin. Initium journal gives the Center's experts the opportunity to comment on issues that are important to the advance of capitalism. I like to think of it as a place where capitalism's defenders can fire from the hip, which is often a useful place to fire from.

Coupled with the Center's analysis and advocacy campaigns, our ability to connect our supporters with government and media leaders is unique in Objectivism. If you think it makes sense to identify issues important to your freedom and economic well-being, get the best experts coming up with rational solutions to these issues and build a movement of intellectual activists to help advance the pro-freedom position with our leading institutions, I hope you will see the value in the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism. We're in the thick of the battle here in Washington. Why not join us?

 

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