Yaron Brook Lecture On Environmentalism

 Posted by on 9 April 2009 at 3:02 pm  ARI, Environmentalism
Apr 092009

At the recent Heartland Institute 2009 conference on climate change (featuring dissent views to the environmentalist orthodoxy), Yaron Brook gave a lecture on the reasons people keep accepting bad environmental science.

He dissects the bad moral premises that Americans unwittingly accept (and must be challenged) in order to defeat the underlying anti-man ideology.

You can listen to his lecture here.

(Via VfR.)

Yaron Brook on the Economic Crisis

 Posted by on 22 September 2008 at 12:08 am  ARI, Economics, Finance
Sep 222008

The September 19, 2008 issue of Time magazine recently quoted Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, in its recent article on the economic crisis:

What Would Ayn Rand Have Done?

…But as the largest bailout in government history unfolded in almost dizzying waves over recent days, a very different view prevailed at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, an outpost of free-market, anti-government thinking located just a few blocks from the newly aggressive and highly interventionist Department of Treasury in downtown Washington.

“It’s a complete disaster,” said Yaron Brook, the executive director of the center. “Its a form of national socialism of the financial markets…This is socialism 101.”

…Brook doesn’t blame speculators, traders or financiers for the market’s near-collapse, but instead blames government for having overregulated the markets in the first place. The business leaders bailed out by government this week “are victims,” he said, “and the government set it up.” Washington underreacted to previous crisis, let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spin wildly out of control as quasigovernment agencies while taxpayers piled up unsecured debt in their names. The crisis, he added, was “really fed throughout by government policies.”

He also notes that the current Republican administration is doing more harm in intervening in the marketplace than a Democratic administration likely could have.

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights

 Posted by on 17 September 2008 at 12:29 am  Announcements, ARI
Sep 172008

Most NoodleFood readers should be aware that the Ayn Rand Institute is in the process of opening a Washington, DC office. If you haven’t heard, here’s the official press release:

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights Press Release

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights to Open in Washington, D.C.
August 18, 2008

Irvine, CA–The Ayn Rand Institute is preparing to launch its new public policy and media center, the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, which will open later this year in Washington, D.C. The Center’s Web site has already been launched, and can be visited at http://www.aynrandcenter.org.

The Ayn Rand Center is named after author and philosopher Ayn Rand (19051982), who is best known for her novels “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged,” and for her original philosophy Objectivism.

According to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “The Ayn Rand Center’s mission is to advance individual rights–the rights of each person to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness–as the moral basis for a fully free, laissez-faire capitalist society.”

Toward this end, the Ayn Rand Center will promote the philosophical case for individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the public policy and business communities, the media, the general public, and elected officials and their staffs.

Among its various activities, the Ayn Rand Center will sponsor writing and research; create audio and video commentaries; provide experts to discuss current issues in the media; host public events, talks, lectures, forums, panel discussions, and debates; offer programs to businessmen; reach out to policymakers; and assist victims of governmental abuse in their efforts to defend themselves on moral grounds. The Ayn Rand Center will also produce articles, op-eds, press releases and letters to the editor, all of which were formerly produced by the Ayn Rand Institute.

“We are confident,” said Dr. Brook, “that the Ayn Rand Center will be instrumental in establishing a future society in which each individual is left free to think and to act on his own best judgment, in which production and profit are seen as virtuous, and in which government is strictly limited to a single function: protecting the legitimate rights of its citizens.”

However, some of you might not be aware that my very best friend in the whole wide world, Lin Zinser, has abandoned her beloved Colorado to take charge of that office. Here’s her official employee description from the web site:

Lin Zinser
Vice President of Public Outreach

Lin Zinser oversees operations of the Ayn Rand Center and its public outreach programs, including media and think tank relations, along with outreach to professional groups.

For the past few weeks, Lin has been working for ARI from Colorado, with occasional trips to Irvine. She left Colorado for good on Monday. She will be settling into her new office in Washington next week.

I must admit: the reality of Lin’s departure has yet to sink in for me. We will feel the loss of her enormously here in Colorado. However, I am super-excited for her — and for ARI. She’s going to do fantastic work in DC.

The Essential Difference

 Posted by on 6 August 2008 at 12:00 pm  ARI, False Friends of Objectivism
Aug 062008

For anyone still wondering about the difference between the Ayn Rand Institute and The Atlas Society, I offer the following two video interviews by UFM.edu:

(Courtesy of an anonymous contributor to the Sunday Open Thread, embedding not permitted.)

The interviewer is the same in both interviews. The questions are quite similar. Yet the interviews couldn’t be more different.

Yaron Brook is clear and direct. With every question, he immediately hones in on the fundamental, often a crucial moral point. He clearly conveys the importance of the ideas he’s espousing, and his confidence in the truth of his answers. He knows his stuff, and he makes us eager to hear more.

David Kelley wanders and stammers in his answers. He is routinely lost in his own pointless digressions and qualifications. He speaks in terms of his own beliefs, not in terms of the truth. He displays no facility with the answers to these basic questions, nor passion for what he’s saying. It’s painful to watch.

(David is much, much worse in this interview than I ever remember him. It seems that his commitment to a subjectivist approach to ideas, Objectivism in particular, continues to take its toll on him.)

The difference between the two interviews is so great that even I’m shocked. Yet it’s so perfectly representative of the moral and epistemological gulf between the two organizations. And that’s why I’m such an ardent supporter of the the Ayn Rand Institute, particularly under the guidance of Yaron Brook.

OCON Wrap Up

 Posted by on 7 July 2008 at 2:09 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 072008

Now that OCON is over and done, NoodleFood will resume its regular blogging on matters of more general interest. I do hope that folks enjoyed the reports, even though usually pretty brief. I’d love to hear whether people might be more (or less!?!) interested in attending an OCON as a result.

(Written and posted from my iPhone in the airport.)

Highlights from OCON: Day 8

 Posted by on 6 July 2008 at 10:26 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 062008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Eight:

Yaron Brook on “Cultural Movements: Creating Change,” Lecture 3 of 3:

  • Yaron Brook gave a compelling speech on the desperate need for grassroots activism to help turn around the culture in the next 20 years, including some ideas for how to do so. ARI and Objectivist intellectuals cannot do all the necessary work on their own. I won’t repeat what he said here, as I believe that these three lectures on activism will be made available for free on the “activism” section of the ARI web site. I cannot recommend listening to them highly enough.

  • Happily, Yaron cited Lin Zinser’s FIRM as a positive example of grassroots activism. Of course, for anyone interested in activism to promote Objectivist ideas in the culture, I strongly recommend joining my OActivists mailing list. I’ve got big plans for it to be implemented in the next month or so.
  • Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this captivating lecture was marred by a very irritating request about halfway through from the person sitting next to me. She was bothered by the perfectly ordinary noise of my typing notes on my computer, and somehow I was obliged to move to another seat. That pretty much killed my concentration for the rest of the lecture. I was literally unable to comprehend what Yaron was saying for a few minutes. I was so irritated because I wasn’t doing anything abnormal or inappropriate, I was in my seat with my computer before she arrived, and she ought to have moved if she’s sensitive. I have no idea who the person was, but I’m still irritated, as I won’t be able to remember the event without remembering that most unwelcome interruption. BLECH!

Eric Daniels on Freedom of Speech in American History, Lecture 3 of 3:

  • Today, Eric Daniels covered the state of the law in various kind of free speech, particularly obscenity law, fighting words and hate speech, and symbolic speech.

  • He also advocated three strategies in any attempt to defend freedom of speech. I’ll list them here, although they only really make sense in the context of the whole course.
    1. Articulate and advocate a proper view of free speech, based on the proper grounds of individual rights and the exercise of reason.
    2. Defend even the worst speech on principle.
    3. Argue that free speech is not just about politics but about all aspects of man’s life.

Paul and I will be returning home tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that, although apparently it’s hot hot hot in Denver.

Highlights from OCON: Day 7

 Posted by on 5 July 2008 at 10:58 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 052008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Seven:

Eric Daniels on Freedom of Speech in American History, Lecture 2 of 3:

  • Once again, Eric’s class was the only lecture I attended today. It was an excellent survey of the change in thinking about free speech during the progressive era, but I’m too tired to say more. I’ll try to blog more on his whole course tomorrow.

Now to bed!

Highlights from OCON: Day 6

 Posted by on 4 July 2008 at 10:50 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 042008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Six:

Eric Daniels on Freedom of Speech in American History, Lecture 1 of 3:

  • Two words perfectly summarize the opening lecture of this course: Freakin’ Awesome. Eric Daniels — my very, very favorite of all the fabulous Objectivist lecturers — offered an hour and fifteen minutes of uber-high-bandwidth information on free speech. It was clear, comprehensible, and compelling. (I had no trouble taking copious good notes.) And, Eric looked at his notes once or twice the whole time — maybe. So as I said: Freakin’ Awesome.

  • This lecture covered three foundational questions: (1) Do we have free speech today? (2) What is free speech? and (3) Why does free speech matter? (His answer for the third was particularly interesting in his emphasis on the epistemological roots of the right of free speech.) Eric then discussed — in some detail — the early history of free speech in America, particularly the state of English law on free speech (fascinating!), the First Amendment and the Sedition Act (not your father’s view!), and the restrictions on abolitionist speech in the mid-1830s (familiar ground for me, but now better integrated and understood).

Since I’m only taking one optional course this week, that single class was my whole conference today. So I spent some time working on my dissertation, talking with friends, and goofing off. Plus I got in a painfully good workout.

Finally, Paul and I had a particularly delightful dinner with friends — the kind of evening that I hope to vividly and fondly recall 50 years from now. That was beyond fantastic.

Oh and I forgot to mention this tidbit earlier: As of a few days ago, OCON 2008 had 455 attendees — and that was still growing. It’s a darn big conference.

Independence Day

 Posted by on 4 July 2008 at 7:41 am  ARI, Politics
Jul 042008

Objectivist philosopher Michael Berliner speaks on the meaning and importance of this anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

Here’s the text version of this op-ed.

Happy Independence Day!

Highlights from OCON: Day 5

 Posted by on 3 July 2008 at 10:53 pm  ARI, OCON
Jul 032008

Here are highlights from the Ayn Rand Institute’s summer conference (a.k.a. OCON), Day Five:

Tore Boeckmann on “The Novels of Ayn Rand and the Metaphysics of Value

  • Tore Boeckmann offered a fascinating look at the concrete values in Ayn Rand’s fiction in relation to the theme of the work, particularly the significance of the incidental elements or aspects of those values, such as Howard Roark’s gaunt, angular figure. This lecture offered a level of literary analysis well beyond my meager understanding, so I plan to be on the lookout for this new complexity when I next reread Ayn Rand’s novels, particularly her more developed works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

Onkar Ghate on “Cultural Movements: Creating Change

  • Onkar Ghate gave a fantastically chilling lecture on the rise of religion in American politics, beginning with the Goldwater campaign. His case for the deliberate infiltration of politics by evangelical Christianity was clear, systematic, and undeniable. Further details may be found in a source used by Dr. Ghate himself, one that I’ve repeatedly recommended, namely With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America by sociologist William Martin.

  • Toward the end of his lecture, Dr. Ghate observed the following, as recorded in my abbreviated notes: Increasing numbers of Christians are recognizing the contemporary evangelical Christianity is too easy, too soft: it doesn’t recognize man’s inherently sinful nature. Moreover, the younger evangelicals are not interested in the free markets espoused by the older generation but rather in environmentalism and poverty. So religion needs environmentalism — and vice versa. Environmentalism offers religion its necessary doomsday scenario according to which your mere existence is a sin. Religion offers environmentalism a widely-held philosophic foundation, as Yaron Brook argued a few days ago. Until now, religionists have been primarily concerned with the spiritual realm, i.e. with sex. Yet many recognize that the message of Christianity is far more broad, far more reaching than that. Correspondingly, environmentalism has been primarily concerned with the material realm, i.e. with industry. The merger of them is a natural outgrowth of their current trajectories — and very dangerous.

Academic Panel:

  • As usual, the Academic Panel had tons of news to report, but since I arrived late and without my computer, I didn’t take notes. If you want to know what’s happening with Ayn Rand in academia, I’d recommend donating to the newly-expanded Anthem Foundation, so that you can enjoy the regular progress reports.

Now, bedtime!

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