Rand disciple spreads her word

It has been a generation since one of the 20th century’s most widely read and well-known philosophers, Ayn Rand, died. And it has been more than a half-century since her most well-known novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” was first published. Yet Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, based on the moral value and supremacy of rational self-interest and free-market capitalism, is enjoying a major revival of interest.
Yaron Brook heads the Ayn Rand Institute, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., but this 48-year-old Ph.D. permits little grass to grow under his feet. His zeal to spread the philosophy and ethic of Rand takes him across the country and around the world. It brought him earlier this month to Atlanta.
In addition to delivering to students in a packed Georgia Tech classroom a speech containing the elements of Rand’s philosophy, Brook fielded tough questions for over an hour. He parried with the students on topics ranging from the industrial revolution to global warming, and from the Federal Reserve to religion.
One thing that emerged from the two-hour-long session, and which in large measure may account for the resurgence in Rand’s popularity, is that in many ways it is an inescapable reality that the disintegration of America’s economy — which Rand described in “Atlas Shrugged” — is playing itself out today, but in the very real world of 21st-century Western civilization.
Yet, while some critics of the massive growth in the size, scope, power and cost of American government in recent decades come off sounding like sour grapes, Brook is upbeat in his talks to students (his audience of choice). Brook shines not as some sort of cockeyed optimist hoping simply to raise money for a cause. He truly understands and believes in the ultimate power of the free market and of the free will of people exercising their rational self-interest, to prevail over the destructive forces of collectivism.
This blend of reality and optimism is most refreshing; but without the strength of Brook’s deep knowledge of history, economics and finance, it would have negligible impact on his audiences. It is this background that lends so much more credibility to his message than all but a handful of speeches I witnessed during my eight years in the Congress or in the seven years since.
When Brook dissects the downfall of the Big Three auto makers, it is a discussion about more than the size of government subsidies or the “evils of big government.” I suspect that Brook has little sympathy for those Detroit CEOs who recently were figuratively disemboweled by congressional inquisitors. He understands, and easily conveys to his audience, that the Big Three bailout resulted from the unholy alliance between Washington, Detroit and the UAW — a cancer that had been eating the foundation of this once-mighty industry for decades.
Brook loves to speak about the growth of the computer industry by American entrepreneurs beginning in the 1960s. His eyes noticeably light up when he does so, and not just because he understands how computers revolutionized the modern world. He truly grasps the fact that in America, even with an economy controlled far too much by government taxes and regulations, there remains sufficient residual freedom to permit men such as Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, the founders of Intel, to visualize, create and market the world’s first microprocessor; only it would be vastly more difficult for them to do so in 2009 than in 1968, when they began.
Were a Thomas Edison to attempt in 2009 what he was able to accomplish 125 years ago, federal agencies from OSHA to EPA would quickly stifle his genius. By hawking the works and ideas of Rand, Yaron Brook hopes to lay the groundwork for a resurgence of the spirit that propelled America from a lumbering, backwater nation to the agile economic engine for the 21st-century world. For all our sake, let’s hope he succeeds.

117 comments Add your comment

Mark

November 16th, 2009
10:17 am

It is no wonder that Bob Barr is enthused by Ayn Rand and her “Atlas Shrugged,” that incredibly idiotic novel espousing primitive, repulsive ideas.

booger

November 16th, 2009
10:27 am

As long as we have a government which rewards the needy and dependant at the expense of the responsible and self reliant, we cannot recover the America that many of us, especially the older ones, remember. America was founded as a place where an individaul could chart their own course and succeed or fail on their own merits. Now success is being punished, and failure subsidized. The government is doing all it can to force workers into collectives called unions, and independant small business owners, who employ most of the people in this country, are footing the bill for this whole social experiment.

Our government decries the income gap in America, but their solution is to make the rich poorer, rather than make the poor richer.

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 16th, 2009
10:38 am

If you’re a lion or a tiger, the law of the jungle probably looks pretty good to you. If you’re an antelope or a wildebeest, you probably think there’s a better way.

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:01 am

Enter your comments here

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:07 am

Read Atlas Shrugged once or a thousand times. The result is always the same. Uncontrolled free markets will never solve our problems because greed rules the bottom line. Government is how we attempt to control greed. Just that simple Mr. Barr.

Jimmy62

November 16th, 2009
11:19 am

But who controls the government’s greed? No one, and it will destroy us far more surely than private greed, because there’s no one to stop it.

Mark: Nice attack. No actual discussion, just insults. Too bad you couldn’t raise an actual argument, since life is playing out just like Rand predicted.

Rob

November 16th, 2009
11:24 am

Justcallitgreed… You are right…greed is the problem. Not a greed for money or material things, but rather an ever-expanding government’s greed for power and CONTROL.

JustCallitGreed

November 16th, 2009
11:34 am

Rob, nice generality about government greed but no solution offered. Have you got one?

Hard Right Hook

November 16th, 2009
11:59 am

Greed? Govt. libtards that constantly scream about taxing everything & anything in sight?

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

sane jane

November 16th, 2009
12:30 pm

Hillbilly Deluxe can always put it just so succinctly. I heart him/her.

The Fountainhead is a better read anyway.

Jefferson

November 16th, 2009
12:47 pm

If a man didn’t have to eat and drink to stay alive what would a capitalist have to offer?

Labor unions are bad but politcal unions are not.

Ever notice how when a man with the “know-how” hooks up with the man with the finances hook up — after a while the man with the finances forgets he doesn’t have the “know-how”.

I am for capitalism with rules. Good working people should not be squeezed and manipulated just so others can sit on their butts living the highlife. Nothing wrong with the highlife, just don’t squeeze those who provide it. If we are in it together, be in it together.

I love lower taxes, but on 9/12 what income group lost the most, you just have to pay for that protection or be happy with what you have left, same applies to the bailouts.

sam

November 16th, 2009
12:58 pm

Turd Ferguson

November 16th, 2009
1:36 pm

Until these dimwits are run on a rail out of Washington then the same mindless, guiltless politics will prevail. Just look at our leaders.

Joe Biden…representing the “hair club for men”.
Harry Reid…booger eater extraordinare.
Nancy Pelosi…Poster-girl for plastic surgery mishaps.
Barney Frank…Long lost brother of Rip Taylor.
Barack Obama…Have teleprompter will travel.

And none of these individuals are really that intelligent. They are just great double-talkers. Great liar, cover-up artists and if the truth were known should probably be breaking rocks on some chain-gang.

These are our so-called leaders? No wonder the Amercian people are in a complete rebellion. Is anyone surprised Atlas has no yet commited suicide.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
1:40 pm

- Conservatives need to understand that it is the actions of
INDIVIDUALS that is harming our country, not the actions of a
collective government, as demonstrated by the real-life crimes of
certain business leaders (MCI Worldcom, Enron, Healthsouth,
etc.) and “investors” such as Bernard Madoff.
Ayn Rand’s novels weren’t so much a form of social science fiction
as they were an argument for objectivism. And conservatives also
need to understand that objectivism is not just a philosophy of self-
reliance and rational self-interest – it also is atheistic in nature, using
rational thinking to deny the existence of God. Just though I’d weigh
in, FYI.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
1:43 pm

- I also agree with sane jane. “The Fountainhead” is the
novel you should start with if you delve into Rand’s works.
That’s why they used it on the now-defunct sci-fi show
“Andromeda”.

Michael P.

November 16th, 2009
2:14 pm

People, just be grateful that Bob Barr has read another book besides “1984″. Even though he still chimed in with his big bro mantra, at least he mentioned a second book.

I read “Atlas Shrugged”. It’s a cookbook! Run for your lives!

Dan Edge

November 16th, 2009
2:19 pm

I was there that night, and I second Mr. Barr’s evaluation of Brook. It was a superb lecture, and an even better Q+A session. The strength of Brook’s talk was his continuing focus on the *morality* of capitalism. Free markets are not just practical, he argues — they are *moral*. Freedom, individualism, and capitalism are required for an ethical system of government. I only regret that this point is lost on the Libertarian Party! As long as you concede the moral argument to the opposition, Mr. Barr, your party will never succeed. I note that you made scant mention of ethics in this article, despite the fact that half of Brook’s lecture focused on morality.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

” . . . it is the actions of
INDIVIDUALS that is harming our country, not the actions of a
collective government . . .”

180 degrees backwards.

The collective government action of turning wealth/money into fiat air-notes is at the root. This collective progressive power grab sent us down the road to funny money. Where money is a joke, jokers will play and scoundrels will gather. Un-collectivize money and the awful exigencies of the market will keep them off the playing field.

Mr. Conservative, II

November 16th, 2009
2:57 pm

It is the individual, not government, that makes a society great. It is the individual who creates the job, writes the book, composes the music, cures the disease, etc. Rand understood this. So- called “help” from the government is just a Trojan horse for control of our lives and loss of our freedoms.

Jim

November 16th, 2009
4:20 pm

You posters should go hear Yaron speak. Ask him to explain and clarify your issues to you.
His is simply intelligent and engaging.

Mark

November 16th, 2009
4:52 pm

Jimmy62: “life is playing out just like Rand predicted” Really? Did you really read that book? You must be kidding.

dbm

November 16th, 2009
4:56 pm

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 16th, 2009
10:38 am

Successful capitalists don’t kill or eat anyone. In a true free market the relationship between rich and poor is mutually beneficial. Even capitalists who lose out in competition don’t get killed or eaten, unless it’s by themselves because they can’t deal with a setback.

Mark

November 16th, 2009
5:04 pm

I am sure Mr. Yaron Brook is intelligent and engaging. I wonder how much time he spent on the Ayn Rand gook’s mantra: “I swear by my life and love of it I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
All volunteers and charity workers must have been enchanted.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
5:09 pm

- Mr. Conservative –
You (and Donohue for that matter) are confusing individualism
with invention.

Invention is older than civilization itself, and it is not an achievement
of individuals alone. Sure, there is some individual effort, but to suggest
that achievement comes ONLY through the efforts of the individual
is what’s behind the bulk of failures our country is experiencing in
the 21st century.

How many times have you and Donohue heard the mantra for and about
service in the military, that it is a belief in “service over self” ?

What we have now in this country is a belief, mostly among conservatives,
that individual wants and needs rule above all else. Yet this is also the main
“value” expressed by the ME generation, as well as mainstream Hollywood.
Why do you think so many actors and actresses shift over to the right of
the political spectrum (as well as a former beauty queen)?

If we continue to reject any kind of collective action, regardless of the
circumstance (remember UNITED WE STAND ? If that isn’t collective
action, I don’t know what is), other countries will seize upon our inability
to work together as a team and exploit us as “individuals”.

No quarterback can win a Superbowl ring all by himself. No student can
self – teach him or herself throughout their entire academic career. And
no country comprised of nothing but individuals can endure. Remember,
United We Stand – Divided We Fall.

YellerSkeeters are PeterEaters!

November 16th, 2009
5:10 pm

How ’bout them DAWGS!!

netkabuki

November 16th, 2009
5:29 pm

Dr Brook may want to explain why he is exploiting his MBA and PhD, from the UT at Austin – a publicly funded, taxpayer subsidized education – to make a living as a financial guru and yet draws a salary of 415,000 fro the ‘not for profit’ Ayn Rand Institute.

He is the quintessential definition of a moocher – a man who does not productive work but survives on the largesse of people donating to a non-profit

A not-for-profit-Ayn-Rand-Institute is the classic definition of an oxymoron.

Do as I say not as I do is the credo of all these hypocrites.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
6:05 pm

I am sure Mr. Brook would support the abolition of all privileged positions per tax policy — through advocating the end of compulsory taxation.

John Donohue

November 16th, 2009
6:18 pm

dewstarpath, all this collective past on which you claim current productive people benefit (and claims to individual accomplishment being thereby void)….

Were those past achievements performed by “society?” If so, please forward society’s Social Security number. I want to find him and thank him personally.

Irony aside: there is no such thing as a collective brain, a collective will, collective rights, collective achievement, IN FACT. There may be a metaphoric pointing to a set of people and ideas, but those are still individuals, not in fact a ‘collective’ being. You cannot run my soul and I cannot run yours. Is there an accumulated body of knowledge and progressive improvement by one person over those of the past on specific fields? Of course.

Ayn Rand honors this intensely in her epistemology. Humans developed a rational method of concept creation based on the particulars of reality. This allows knowledge to be passed from one person to another. It allows an individual to ‘load up’ on a mass of discovery in his field. However, there is no intrinsic ‘debt’ to those in the past which can justify the binding of the current individual to others currently alive. The productive person must produce new value in order to have something to trade with others doing the same thing.

saywhat?

November 16th, 2009
7:29 pm

Netkabuki @5:29, you just pretty much nailed it. Where are all the Randians acknowledging the benefits they have received, the opportunities they have been provided, etc, that would not, could not have happened without the presence of the “collectivism” they claim to so despise? If someboody claims to be a “self made man’, they lie.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:25 pm

- John Donohue –
You misquote me:
“- all this collective past on which you claim current
productive people benefit (and claims to individual
accomplishment being thereby VOID)…”

My ACTUAL quote:

” – Sure, there is some individual effort, but to suggest
that achievement comes ONLY through the efforts of the
individual is what’s behind the bulk of failures our country
is experiencing in the 21st century.”

I acknowledge the achievements of the individual. But our
greatest achievements come from teamwork. That’s the
way it is – a fact of life that can be seen everywhere.

Going back to the sports example – just because a team
wins a championship or a Superbowl, doesn’t mean that
you can’t have an MVP – it’s just that the MVP isn’t more
important than the team as a WHOLE.

And Ayn Rand was not the figurehead of the philosophical
concept known as epistemology. That honor goes to Alfred
North Whitehead, of Ramsgate, Kent (U.K.). Epistemology
is rational, but objective in that the individual has to have a
multi-faceted outlook at a given situation – not the tunnel
vision most conservatives tend to have. Objectivism (Rand) and
objectivity (Descartes) are fundamentally different.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:26 pm

- saywhat? –
You nailed it as well.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:34 pm

- Donohue –
One other thing. You can advocate it until you’re
blue in the face, but “the end to compulsory
taxation” ? Don’t hold your breath. This is reality.
There is no such a thing as a “taxless government”.
The Revolutionary War started over “taxation without
representation”, not “taxation with immediate
cessation”. If that happened, there wouldn’t be an
America today for you to freely express your views.
Armies and navies are paid for with taxes. Fact of life.

dbm

November 16th, 2009
9:46 pm

Mark

November 16th, 2009
5:04 pm

Being a volunteer or a charity worker does not equate to living for the sake of another man.
Anyone who works honestly for a living is trading value for value, whether they work for a charity, another type of nonprofit, another type of organization, or themselves.
Most volunteers are getting something and/or hoping to get something out of their volunteering, even if it’s not financial.

netkabuki

November 16th, 2009
5:29 pm

A person who works for a nonprofit is not a moocher as long as he or she is giving fair value for the income.
Ayn Rand approves of the profit motive, but this does not equate to insisting that every organization make a profit.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:25 pm

Any team is composed of individuals. It is true that these individuals must work together to optimize their success as a team, but the team is nothing without the contributions of its individual members.

dewstarpath

November 16th, 2009
8:34 pm

The way in which government is financed needs to be reformed, but this can only be done after government is cut back to its proper functions. There are non-coercive ways to fund government. Ayn Rand addressed this point.

John

November 16th, 2009
10:35 pm

Mr. Barr, I’m assuming you are referring to the incandescent light bulb invented by Edison as something that couldn’t be done today. Evidently you are unaware of the LED bulbs developed by CREE in the US and Philips in the Netherlands. You and presumably Dr. Brook are far too pessimistic regarding the capability of today’s individual and corporate inventors. And yes, we need the FDA, EPA, SEC etc. to keep people from doing some very bad things. Speaking of initials, do DDT and CFC’s mean anything to you.

Ralph C. Whaley MD

November 16th, 2009
10:58 pm

John: DDT was and is a life saver, the most efective and economical prevention of mosquito born diseases including malaria and yellow fever. It has saved millions of lives before it was banned. CFC’s are excellent highly efficient refrigeration agents that serve man with safety and economy. Both have been banned on false representation of their nature when used for these purposes. Check the facts before repeating by implication these false ideas.

stevieb

November 17th, 2009
12:31 am

The Thomas Edison comment is typical of the whining “no more regulation” crowd. No Mr. Barr, it wouldn’t be government that would slow down or stop a would-be inventor of a new battery that would yield enough power to make automobiles function at their present speeds for a week It would be big oil companies and the boot-licking politicians that live off them that would halt that inventor.

norman ravitch

November 17th, 2009
6:37 am

Conservatives may think well of Ayn Rand but her form of capitalism is so unreal, so Utopian that conservatives should think more than twice. Opposition to Utopian thought is the most important element of conservatism. This all tells me that our so-called conservatives are not very smart or very conservative.

Joe M.

November 17th, 2009
8:22 am

Yaron Brook is an extremely articulate and persuasive exponent of his views. Agree or disagree, people ought to listen to him.

bob

November 17th, 2009
8:51 am

John, taking care of your own needs may be repulsive to you but many, like myself, have no problem coping without the hand of mommy Gov’t. I will go out on a limb and say you are a supporter of Obamacare and Social Security.

dbm

November 17th, 2009
10:22 am

stevieb

November 17th, 2009
12:31 am

You admit then that politicians, i.e. government, would be needed to suppress an invention. Big companies couldn’t do it by themselves in a free market.

norman ravitch

November 17th, 2009
6:37 am

Please define “Utopian”.

V for Vendetta

November 17th, 2009
11:37 am

Wow. I’m shocked by some of the vehement comments coming from posters today. It seems that many of you have read Atlas Shrugged and/or The Fountainhead; however, I wonder how many people spewing such vitriolic statements have read The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and The Romantic Manifesto.

It seems as though many of you do not understand what Rand meant when she talked about “rational self interest.” Such a viewpoint does not prevent one from donating to or working for a charity, it explains a moral way to promote Capitalism, and it teaches self reliance and accountability.

Sounds pretty terrible, huh?

Chris Broe

November 17th, 2009
12:22 pm

Going Rogue is the new Atlas Shrugged.

TW

November 17th, 2009
12:34 pm

Oh, for cryin’ out loud – today’s ‘conservative’ don’t know Hank Reardon from Hank Williams…

DebbieDoRight

November 17th, 2009
1:36 pm

But who controls the government’s greed? No one, and it will destroy us far more surely than private greed, because there’s no one to stop it

We do. It’s called “vote them out of power”. Why do we continue to let the greedy avarice politicians remain for years/decades and do nothing about it but complain about their greed? Like the scorpion said to the frog, you knew what I was when you let me ride on your back.

DebbieDoRight

November 17th, 2009
1:39 pm

Want no more government controls? Wanna peanut butter sandwich? (or a piece of meat, or some milk, or some green onions, or some tomatoes, or…………….)

dewstarpath

November 17th, 2009
2:35 pm

- john – stevieb – norman ravitch –
Thank you. We need more people like you
at the state level of government.

dewstarpath

November 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

- dbm –
If you think big business can’t suppress an invention,
maybe you ought to research Kearns v. Ford Motor Co.,
as depicted in the 2008 film “Flash of Genius” .

John

November 17th, 2009
6:54 pm

Dr. Whaley, my point regarding DDT and CFC’s was related to their overuse before they were regulated. Surely you are aware that neither of these chemicals readily break down. DDT is therefore concentrated in the food chain. Also there is some evidence that mosquitoes are developing a resistance to it. As for CFC’s, their role in destruction of the ozone layer was determined by some really good science and they were banned except for essential uses where no substitutes exist. Usage dropped by more than 90%. It’s pretty obvious that without government intervention the use of DDT and CFC’s would have increased.

neo-Carlinist

November 17th, 2009
8:47 pm

Ayn Rand was a navel-gazing purveyor of fiction, period. Rand disciples rant about the “government” as if there is a difference between the public sector and the private sector. Are the lobbyists who project the (self) interests of corporations representative of a “free market”? The evil “government” and “unions” came about because unbriddled self-interest (greed) has its limits. I openly admit that I don’t know where the limit exists and neither unfettered free market capitalism, nor collectivism is the answer. Were markets allowed to operate independent of special interests, maybe we’d have a better mousetrap, but Ayn Rand’s musings are no more valid than the musings of Karl Marx. SELF RELIANCE is the key, self-interest is a dead end.

Fang1944

November 17th, 2009
10:33 pm

“I am sure Mr. Yaron Brook is intelligent and engaging. I wonder how much time he spent on the Ayn Rand gook’s mantra: “I swear by my life and love of it I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
All volunteers and charity workers must have been enchanted.”

I spend one morning a week living for another man (or in this a woman and her family), working on a Habitat for Humanity house. It has to do with that Christianity stuff. Anybody putting out some effort for something philanthropic has contributed more to our country than Ayn Rand.

And let’s not forget Thalidomide. Thank God a bureaucratic lady in the FDA stifled it from being approved in this country.