One of the greatest sources of motivation for me, in both my thinking and my posting here on the blog, is listening to talks by Yaron Brook. He is an incredibly engaging and prolific speaker and thanks to platforms such as YouTube I am able to watch far more of these talks than if I could only see those I attended in person. Indeed, I have viewed dozens of videos of his talks from all over the world but have only been to one in person, his debate a couple of years ago at the Ford Hall Forum. (I also got his autograph and he recognized my name from Twitter.)
The one drawback, if it can be called that, with being able to see so many talks is that the prepared portion becomes familiar. This is still a value though as he is extemporaneous in his talks so while the main points are the same in any set of talks, the exact wording and direction he approaches these points is a little different. The repetition though does lead me to really enjoy, I would even say love, the Q&A sessions. While there are some questions that come up quite often (e.g. what about the poor? and what about Sweden?) there are many questions I would never think of asking which in turn allows for a greater understanding of the fundamental ideas. And he often gets very passionate in his responses.
I believe that America and Western civilization can still be saved.
Because of this love of Yaron’s Q&A sessions I was very pleased when I finally had time to watch this video of his recent talk in Kiev, Ukraine and, as it turned out, it is 102 minutes of Q&A. While I was watching this video I was also keeping an eye on election results in Venezuela. My wife and her family still live there so I pay a little more attention to happens there than most Americans do and that gives me something more concrete to compare what goes on in this country to. So while I was reading about how Venezuela’s socialist party, PSUV, was getting their asses kicked by the opposition in parliamentary elections, I could not help but compare that to the growing popularity of someone like Senator Bernie Sanders in this country. Why is the United States moving steadily towards statism while countries like Venezuela are trying to come back from the brink of disaster that such statism has led them to?
Yaron Brook gives an answer to this question in his response to a question asked in Ukraine about the impact Ayn Rand has had on the freedom movement. He could have been speaking to people in Venezuela. And I hope people in America are listening.
You guys know, much better than we do in America the evil of socialism. You get it because you’ve lived it. You know the evil of fascism. You’ve lived that, or your parents or grandparents lived through fascism. You’ve got a bit of that on your eastern border right now. So you know how bad things can be. … Americans are pretty…lazy. Life is good. And if its deteriorating, economic growth and jobs aren’t there, its still pretty good. We get a new iPhone every year, we get Apple TV. I’ve got an Apple watch. You know, things are good. Why worry about freedom, this abstract concept. In fact we’re losing freedom in America at a fast rate. Nobody worries about it because life is too comfortable. Life is not comfortable for you. You know the threats. You’ve lived them. Within a generation or two you’ve lived through all of them. There is a certain existential angst in eastern Europe and I think when there is that angst people are looking for answers. And I think Ayn Rand presents answers. … I think in America again people are a little too lazy, “Oh why should I engage with new ideas” but you guys need new ideas. You know you need new ideas.