Each week I present a round-up of the podcasts I listen to. These podcasts are all centered around the theme of looking at current events through the lens of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. This week, I have podcasts from Yaron Brook, Amy Peikoff and Elan Journo.
(As Amy always does, there are show notes with links to all the articles and items she mentions in the podcast. You can find them here.) In this episode, which I couldn’t get to last week, Amy Peikoff, a big Ted Cruz supporter, pondered the question of what do lovers of liberty do now that Ted Cruz has dropped out of the race. She views the current campaign season as both better and worse than she had hoped. Better in that Ted Cruz lasted longer in the fight than many would have believed last year. He had substantial, broad support, especially considering the odds against him. The campaign has been worse because Trump has become the presumptive nominee.
To say we are between a rock and a hard place doesn’t capture the dismal position we are in. – Amy Peikoff
The question now is, understanding that capitalism is what can save this country, and Trump is anything but a supporter of capitalism, how do we get from where we are now to there? Amy believes we should have two goals:
- Educate people about what real capitalism is and how it can save the country
- Create as much gridlock as possible to give us the time to achieve the first goal.
To achieve the second goal, we should try to ensure that whoever is elected cannot be seen to have a mandate, and from what Amy has seen, it appears that Hillary, if elected, would be most likely to be viewed as having a mandate. This would seem to preclude voting for Hillary to help deny the presidency to Trump as Jonathan Hoenig has said he will do. Hoenig’s view is that billionaire Trump is viewed as a capitalist and so the disaster that would result from his policies would be laid at the feet of capitalism. In discussing this view Amy pointed out that capitalism and the free market will be blamed no matter who is in office when their policies fail. [ed. This is what you see in Venezuela. Factories there have stopped producing due to lack of the materials needed to produce with but President Maduro has ordered those factories seized and threatened to arrest the owners for plotting to bring down the government by exacerbating the economic crisis.]
The show covered a lot of ground that is hard to reduce to a brief summary, so be sure to take a listen.
This episode of Yaron’s radio program from AM560 in Chicago took place just after the one-year anniversary of the jihadist attack on the Draw Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, which was thankfully foiled by security personnel. The response to this attack, or the lack there of, is an example of the lack of respect free speech has today among many people. Many appear to believe that it is appropriate to use force to stop speech you don’t like.
The government, whose job it is to protect our rights, fails to do so in many cases. Some years ago, Salman Rushdie and his publishers (including an American firm) were threatened by the leader of Iran for writing a book “insulting” to Islam. The government took no action to protect their rights even after a store in New York which was selling the book was fire bombed. [ed. More recently you can look at the government response to threats from North Korea over the film The Interview.]
Current presidential candidates offer no great hope that our free speech will be protected. Even Trump, the supposed tough guy who says he will destroy ISIS said, in response to the Garland attack, that he supported free speech, but why do you have to offend people. [ed. How exactly are you going to destroy ISIS without offending them?] As Yaron pointed out, the right to free speech is the right to offend people. The Declaration of Independence surely offended King George, so would Trump have spoken against it as he did the cartoonists in Garland?
We are regulating our businesses out of existence. – Yaron Brook
Of course, Trump’s disdain for free speech doesn’t stop with this desire for self-censorship. He also wants to open up libel laws so that can go after people who say bad things about him. [ed. This took on a new dimension a few days ago when Trump hinted at going after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos because the Washington Post, which Bezos bought, is writing negative articles about Trump.]
Yaron had two callers during the show. One talked about the importance of naming the enemy and the second about fair trade versus free trade. The second call led to a good discussion about trade and what is actually causing the loss of jobs in the United States. (hint: it isn’t foreign trade)
This week’s edition of Yaron Brook’s Radical Capitalist show was hosted by Elan Journo as Yaron is currently on a speaking tour in Europe. After opening with a brief discussion about why you should go to OCON in Seattle this year, Elan moved on to the main topic of the show, the importance of philosophical ideas in society.
He approached this through the issue of disdain for “foreign policy elites,” and elites more generally, today. Elan views the concept of elites in this context to be a package deal, or even an anti-concept, designed to cloud the issue. As it is currently used, opposition to the elites, be they foreign policy or political party, implies that we would be better off without experts, people with specialized knowledge, in these areas. The current view of elites packages together concepts that need to be separated in order to accurately judge the experts and their decisions. The two major concepts being superlative specialized knowledge and the fundamental philosophical ideas. We need to recognize that it is the latter that controls how the expert applies and interprets the former.
He concretizes this view by looking at the situation in the Middle East. In particular, he focused on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the 2006 landslide Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. The fact that this outcome surprised the experts at the State Department provides a perfect illustration of the point he made in the abstract. The Bush administration’s belief that “everyone in their heart wants to be free” (in the Western sense of the word) and democracy would allow them to achieve that blinded them to, or caused them to actually evade, the knowledge of the trend of the Arab nationalism of the mid 20th century being replaced by the Islamists who were gaining ground against other ideological groups. In essence, they were putting a wish ahead an “it is.”
Elan ended the show talking about two books. His forthcoming book on how American foreign policy in the Middle East undercuts Israel and encouraged the jihadists and Hamas. Administrations from Clinton onward have all pushed aside the need to evaluate in moral terms the two sides of the conflict. The book should hopefully be out in a few months.
The second book was his positive recommendation. A Companion to Ayn Rand is a superb guide to Ayn Rand’s ideas. It provides an orientation and explanation of those ideas, putting forth not only her philosophical system but also the evidence to support it. [ed. I am currently chewing the book and it is fascinating, especially in that in brings the threads from her whole body of work together by topic.]