A movement has no gatekeepers. That means there is no way to stop destructive individuals from entering the movement. Yet, there must be quality control at some level to prevent damage to efforts to reach the goals of the movement. To detect dangers, a movement needs watchmen as lookouts.
JOB REQUIREMENTS. The individuals who choose to be watchmen and exercise quality control, in some manner and at some level, are necessarily "self-appointed." Such a function is open to anyone who sees a danger worthy of action and has the skills to take appropriate steps -- which means mainly the ability to present an objective argument proving his charges against other individuals in the movement.
Objectivity means drawing all ideas logically from facts of reality. To be objective, an indictment of one individual by another must present facts as well as an argument leading from those facts to the indictment. The facts must be presented with specificity; pointing in the general direction ("Look at his writings!") is not specific. The argument must cover the steps required to move from evidence to conclusion. The indictment must be clear.
Debates among various watchmen are inevitable and desirable. The accusers are akin to prosecuting attorneys. There are defendants, rightly or wrongly accused. There are also the ladies and gentlemen of the jury: anyone who studies the issues, makes a judgment, and acts accordingly. However, there is no judge to set rules of procedure. Nor is there a bailiff, a policeman, or a jailer.
EXAMPLE APPROACHES. There are many optional approaches available to watchmen who are ready to make charges. Here are two examples to consider for their particular methods:
They are widely separated in time. In some ways, they are different in their purposes and methods. The first consists mainly of an annotated list of links to the author's own discussions on particular topics of false friends of Objectivism. The second, in most (but not all) of its tabbed pages (as of the day I viewed it), also consists mainly of links to other writings critiquing individuals the accusers think are pseudo-Objectivists. (The second site is new and the content is evolving.)
A third effort to consider is an apologia, a coherent essay which offers a defense against charges:
I have identified the particular writings above because of their virtues, whatever faults they might also have (which must be judged within the context of each project's purposes). Generally, in the links cited both sources are serious and dignified. They deal with issues, which here means individuals and their ideas. They eschew foul language, "hot headed" outbursts, hyperbole, street talk, and other symptoms of profane culture.
CONCLUSION. Does a movement need watchmen? Yes, to protect the movement's efforts to reach its goals. The responsibility of being watchmen is heavy. It requires diligence in research, thought, and argumentation. It also requires the strength to withstand scrutiny.
PERSONAL NOTE: A BRIGHT FUTURE. I judge a movement by the actions of its best individuals, which includes, in part, their efforts to (1) set an example for rational behavior and (2) discourage violations of etiquette. (By "etiquette" I mean principles and rules of behavior that facilitate trade among individuals in a society.)
I have been a student of Objectivism for fifty years. In looking at the best behavior of particular individuals in recent controversies, on both sides, I see some signs of increasing personal maturity and interpersonal civility -- both of which are prerequisites for the trade of ideas, a trade that strengthens a movement. I also keep in mind a generalization: In controversies, the best individuals in a movement are often quiet until they are ready to make a thoughtful statement, if one is even worth formulating.
In preparing to write The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, I read about conflicts in several movements (such as the movement to overthrow the Enlightenment). Compared to those movements, the Objectivist movement is healthy and growing stronger. For this and other reasons, I am objectively hopeful for the future of the Objectivist movement.
P. S. -- I "know" some of the individuals involved in the controversy above, but only through the internet. For personal reasons, I dislike a few and I have ceased communicating with them. The issues in the sites above, however, are not personal issues, but issues of individuals accused of misrepresenting or otherwise damaging the Objectivist movement.