A few words about Aspen Ideas | AspenTimes.com

A few words about Aspen Ideas

The Ideas Festival is over, and I presume that most of the participants have left. So, now that there’s nobody here but us, I wanted to take note of the 3,352-word “conversation,” “edited for clarity and length” between Dan Porterfield — President and CEO of the Aspen Institute — and the Aspen Daily News. This in a newspaper which suggests that 250 words is about all they want to hear from their own readers in the letters section.

Regarding the 3,352 words, that’s a lot of free advertising, and if the Institute were a political organization an article of that size would probably need to be reported as an in-kind contribution. Oh wait, they are a political organization, they just don’t run ads during election season.

According to Porterfield: “This year we have placed more emphasis on what is the next chapter of the Aspen Institute’s relationship with Aspen, Colorado. … I think the institute can also take a role, as long as it is a nonpartisan role, to try to gauge the direction of progress and try to nudge, encourage, support and evaluate efforts to make progress happen.”


Most people think that partisan, or “nonpartisan,” is a reference to party politics, as in Democrats and Republicans and all that stuff. To me, the true partisan divide is between totalitarians and libertarians — people who want to run everything and people who mostly just want to be left alone. The first group inevitably drifts toward one-party rule and centralized control (the definition of totalitarian, by the way), while the second group tries to lay low and live their life. We need both, but the former is more prone to excess — without considerable resistance from the latter.

The Institute is all about really, really big institutions and organizations. Their concern with the individual (a word which never appears among the 3,352) is mostly to groom those who might someday run the really, really big institutions. That’s fine, I guess, but could they perhaps stop pretending that indoctrinating people into totalitarian groupthink is nonpartisan?

Oh rats, I’m 102 words over my limit.

Jeffrey Evans