Dr. Yaron Brook on Ayn Rand, Capitalism and the War on Terror
The Daily Bell is pleased to present this interview with Dr. Yaron Brook.
Introduction: Dr. Yaron Brook is executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. He is a columnist at Forbes.com, and his articles have been featured in major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Investor’s Business Daily. Dr. Brook is often interviewed on radio and is a frequent guest on a variety of national TV programs. He is co-author of Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea and a contributor to Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism. Dr. Brook, a former finance professor, is an internationally sought after speaker on such topics as the causes of the financial crisis, the morality of capitalism, and U.S. foreign policy.
Dr. Brook was born and raised in Israel. He served as a first sergeant in Israeli military intelligence and earned a BSc in civil engineering from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. In 1987 he moved to the United States, where he received his MBA and Ph.D. in finance from the University of Texas at Austin; he became an American citizen in 2003. For seven years he was an award-winning finance professor at Santa Clara University, and in 1998 he cofounded a financial advisory firm, BH Equity Research, of which he is presently managing director and chairman.
Daily Bell: Acquaint us with your background, and how you became interested in Ayn Rand.
Dr. Yaron Brook: I read Atlas Shrugged when I was 16. I was born and raised in Israel and was living there at the time, and I would say at the time when I read Atlas Shrugged I was a committed socialist, altruist and collectivist – the opposite of Ayn Rand. When a friend handed me the book and I read it, I really fought the book, but by the end Ayn Rand had won. She had convinced me that she was right and the ideas that I had held before were wrong.
It's quite different than a lot of people who read Atlas Shrugged. Their experience of it is, yes, this on some level is what I believe; she's putting it into words. In my mind it wasn't. It was a real revolution, an intellectual revolution. So once I read Atlas Shrugged, I tried to read everything else I could get my hands on. It wasn't easy to do in Israel in those days. There was no Internet, no clubs or organizations where I could get my hands on books. Eventually I got my hands on more material and became more and more committed to her ideas.
Daily Bell: Tell us about the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), a non-profit organization in Irvine, and your role there. Tell us more about your journey from socialism to Rand-ism. What were some of the landmarks?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Well, really there was only one landmark, and that was Atlas Shrugged. After that I read everything else she had written. About three years later, I got some people in Israel interested in her ideas, and we would get together on a regular basis to discuss them. After getting my undergraduate degree in Israel, I moved to the United States, where again I met more people who were interested in Ayn Rand's ideas. I ended up attending some conferences that the Ayn Rand Institute was involved in at that time and attended classes and seminars with the Institute in philosophy.
I also started a company that put on objectivist conferences all over the United States and other countries as well. We had one in Belgium, one in London, Italy, a cruise on the Greek Islands and did a lot of fun stuff. So I got to know everybody who was involved at the Institute and taking courses from them, and many of them were speakers at my conferences. When the previous Executive Director of the Institute retired, they came to me and offered me the job. That was in 2000, and I have been President and Executive Director of the Institute since then.
Daily Bell: You worked not only in the Israeli army but also for Israeli intelligence. Did you work directly for the Mossad? Are you entirely free to speak your mind now?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes, I am (laughing). Well, I am not sure what they would say but yes, I think I am. During my compulsory military service, I was a 1st Sergeant in the Israeli Army Intelligence – from 1980-82, not a very long time. Initially I was in the tank corps for nine months and then spent the rest of my three years of service in military intelligence; I never worked for the Israeli intelligence agency.
Daily Bell: You are an associate of Leonard Peikoff, who seems to be a kind of lightening rod for controversy as well as a champion of Ayn Rand. Can you tell us something about him and why that is so?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Sure. Leonard is the foremost expert today on Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. He's one of the smartest people I know. I don't think anybody understands Objectivism as well as he does, and knows how to apply it as well as he does. He was Rand's longtime student, and he wrote a landmark book on Objectivism. Across many decades, he's been loyal to his ideas; he's a man of principle and believes in Ayn Rand's philosophy and has stayed consistent to it. He has often made statements or disapproves of things that people are doing or saying, and he expresses his assessment in a very blunt, straightforward way. That turns some people off. He takes judging people very seriously. He takes the nature of justice and the nature of morality very seriously. Unlike many people today Leonard is willing to be just; he actually makes a case for why he believes certain people are the way they are, and certain views of the way they are. It's his uncompromising style and his uncompromising views that make him a lightening rod.
Daily Bell: On foreign policy, the ARI advocates American national self-interest, including ending the regimes that sponsor terrorism. Is that a true summary of ARI's perspective?
Dr. Yaron Brook: That's a brief sound-bite version of it, and of course, it's important to flesh out the details. I would encourage your readers to have a look at two ARI books that discuss our views on foreign policy at length: Winning the Unwinnable War: America's Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism, and The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest. But let me sketch the bare outlines.
We believe that the only purpose of government is to protect individual rights. So in the context of foreign policy, the only purpose of government is to protect the lives and property of American citizens. When those lives or property are endangered, threatened or actually attacked, it is the job of the American government to do whatever is in its power to stop those attacks, to get rid of the threats, to allow Americans to live in peace without that threat laying over them. That's the guiding idea.
In the case of terrorism, I'd make two key points: "terrorism" is one particularly heinous tactic, but still just a tactic, employed by the Islamist movement; and that the fundamental problem is that ideological movement – which is inspired, funded and actively spearheaded by state-sponsors, prominent among them Iran and Saudi Arabia. Islamist terrorist organizations rely on (and often act as proxies for) regimes that share their goals and that provide them with infrastructure, training, logistical support, safe haven, weapons – and, crucially, intellectual inspiration. Consequently, following 9/11, we needed to stamp out not just the particular Islamist faction behind the attack, but the culpable state-sponsors. We believe that those regimes should be punished for their actions.
Daily Bell: Can it be said that you saw the Bush Administration's policies as weak ones, and that you advocate a stronger response to aspects of Islam that you consider terrorist?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Absolutely. I think George Bush's policies made America look like a complete weakling. I think he engaged in the wrong wars and when he engaged in war he did so in a self-sacrificial, wimpy way, that undercut our military goals. On this, I'd refer you to Winning the Unwinnable War, which analyzes in detail the policies of the Bush administration post-9/11. The Iraq war needlessly cost thousands of American lives, billions of dollars, and worked to undermine our security in many ways.
If somebody attacks us, they should suffer the consequences, which I believe should be pretty horrendous. I don't believe that Iraq was a significant threat to the States in the context of 9/11. I think there were other countries that were – chiefly Iran – and they got a free pass. All of which has left us worse off.
I really believe – and I know many, particularly in the libertarian movement disagree with me – but I believe that the war was motivated by Bush's messianic agenda to bring democracy to the Middle East, and lift the region's people out of their misery and destitution. But that's not a legitimate goal for war.
I don't believe you go to war to build sewers, open schools, and bring democracy – as our military was ordered to do in Iraq. I believe that it's proper to go to war in self-defense, and when you go to war, that entails destroying the enemy. History shows that whenever you go to war for any other reason, you lose. World War II was the last war America won; since then our approach to war has been incoherent, our purposes unclear – think of Vietnam – and the results, tragic.
Daily Bell: Is it true that the motivation for Islamic terrorism comes from Muhammad's teachings, not poverty or a reaction to Western policies?
Dr. Yaron Brook: At root it's ideas, not poverty, that drives the Islamist cause. There are plenty of poor people around the world who don't strap bombs to themselves and go blow up innocent people in malls or restaurants or in places of business like high rise buildings. Empirical evidence tells us that many Islamic terrorists are middle class and tend to be well educated. Osama bin Laden was a multi-millionaire. Some of the 9/11 hijackers had engineering degrees. I completely reject the notion that Islamist terrorism is motivated by poverty.
Is it motivated by a reaction to American policies? Again, no. American policy in the Middle East has been a farce for most of the 20th century; I'd argue we were unable to properly define and effectively pursue our self-interest. But the fact is, the animus of Islamists predates substantive US involvement with the area – Britain and France were much more significant powers in the region when the Islamist movement began its ascent. Their animus against us has everything to do with their ideas.
Consider what the Islamist ideologues themselves say and write. Look at the theoreticians, the people who bin Laden and people like him read and studied and based their organizations and their activism and their terrorism upon. Those intellectual leaders have a deep-rooted hatred of the West that has nothing to do with the West's activities in the Middle East. It has everything to do with the fact that we are secular, that we are successful, that we are capitalists.
Take, for example, Sayyid Qutb, an intellectual father of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and a leading intellectual of the jihadist movement more broadly. Around 1949 or so, he lived in the US briefly, and observed American culture. Now, bear in mind, although he lived in a tame, small town in Colorado, he came away fearing that our influence would further drive Egyptians away from Allah. He considered even Christians, even religious Americans, as fundamentally secular because he went to church dances and saw men and women dancing together. That was horrific to him. His enmity to the West was fundamentally rooted in the fact that America is secular, non-Islamic, and respects the individual's political sovereignty. That, at root, is why he thought the West should be fought and destroyed.
Part of the Islamist outlook is that the Muslim world is impoverished and lacking in political power (compared to its long-ago empire days) because it has drifted away from piety. The existence of a stupendously powerful, wealthy and, crucially, secular nation – the U.S. – is an implied rebuke to their ideal. And they feel it is an obstacle to their political goal of establishing religious rule.
Based on what Islamists think Islam says, they believe it is their moral responsibility, their duty to their religion, to bring about a world dominated by wholesale submission to Allah's laws. A necessary means to that end is to destroy secularism and in particular to destroy the most powerful secularists in the world, which is today the United States.
If you think about the values that the West, primarily the United States, has to offer to the Middle East in terms of technology, education, wealth, capitalism, individual rights, the principals by which the West functions, then they should embrace our presence, they should welcome it.
Daily Bell: Have you urged that the US use overwhelming, retaliatory force to "end states who sponsor terrorism"? What would that consist of?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes, I believe that the regimes that support terrorism should be destroyed. That means the leadership and the infrastructure that makes that leadership possible should be replaced as long as the regime continues to support terrorism. That means using overwhelming force. That means supporting internal revolutionary countries, whatever the means necessary. Americans should not live in threat because Iranian or Saudi or Afghan or Iraqi regimes are plotting to kill Americans.
Daily Bell: Leonard Peikoff wrote an article entitled, "End States Who Sponsor Terrorism," which was published as a full-page ad in the New York Times. Can you summarize it? Is that ARI's current position?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes, and I think we have summarized it in the previous question; but that's not a substitute for reading the article. I think the role of the United States government is to protect the lives and property of Americans and if there are regimes out there that are threatening the lives and property of Americans, those regimes need to be dealt with, and dealt with in the harshest military means if that is the best way of getting eliminating the threat to the lives and property of Americans. If there are better ways of getting rid of them like through encouraging an internal revolution in Iran, then that's better. It's cheaper and it's easier and it doesn't imperil the lives of Americans.
Daily Bell: You make a distinction between Israel and Zionism. Can you explain? You have said that the West isn't at war with terrorism but the ideology of Islamic totalitarianism. Can you elaborate?
Dr. Yaron Brook: First, my view of Israel is that it is a moral country, it is a good country, and it is a country that deserves our moral support and our political support. And the reason for that is it is a Western country and it respects, to the extent that any Western country does, the individual rights of its citizens. In Israel you have such a thing as property rights, you have freedom of speech, you have freedom of mobility – you can leave and return to the country freely – as we have in all Western countries – France, Britain, United States, Germany and Italy and so on – all legitimate, moral countries that deserve moral and political support. I think Israel is morally on par with those countries. The Arabs who live in Israel, whether they are Muslim or Christian, have more rights in Israel than they do in any Arab country out there.
Israel is under constant threat of annihilation. It is the victim in its war with the Palestinians and with its Arab neighbors. They have tried to annihilate it from the day it was established and for no just reason. I am a big supporter of Israel and I think any rational person should be. I think anybody who values freedom should be a supporter of Israel. I think those who are attacking Israel – militarily attacking Israel – whether it's the Palestinians or another neighbor, are the enemies of freedom and have shown themselves to be the enemies of freedom by the way they rule their own people. I think it is horrific that some Americans, some libertarians, find themselves attacking Israel and supporting its enemies. I think it's an example of the fact that key people in the libertarian movement are not advocates of individual freedom and individual rights.
Daily Bell: Do you believe Islamic totalitarians want to spread a global Islamic government across the world using physical force?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes. Read Ayatollah Khomeini. Read what he wrote while he was supreme leader of Iran – and in the decades before he rose to power. Read what the current supreme leader of Iran, Khamenei, writes and read his speeches. Read Sayyid Qutb, a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Read what the radical political party in Egypt, the Salafi Al-Nour, the party that won over 20 percent of the vote in Egypt, has written. Read what they want to do with Egypt and what their ambitions are beyond Egypt. Read the political manifesto of Hamas or Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad.
All of them have an immediate enemy. In the case of Hamas it's Israel. In the case of Hezbollah, it's Israel and the Lebanese government. In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi, it's the Egyptian government. But all of them, once they have conquered their immediate close enemy all of them want to bring about the establishment of the Caliphate, which is a world empire, a Caliphate, a dictator and governed by Sharia law, which is Islamic law and they are ambitious. They want to dominate the world. They say it, not me.
Now, we look at that and say, 'That's absurd. That's ridiculous. Nobody wants world domination. We live in the 21st century.' But we forget that just a few decades ago the Communists wanted world domination and thought they'd have it, Hitler wanted world domination and thought he'd have it and Japan wanted world domination and thought they would have it. So in the last hundred years we've witnessed ideological movements seeking world domination and willing to use force in order to attain it. The Islamists have just picked it up from there. I think anybody who doesn't understand that hasn't read them and doesn't listen to what they have to say.
Daily Bell: You also believe that the US was attacked first and therefore the US government and the president have a moral obligation to defend American citizens.
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes. I think that 9/11 was an unprovoked attack against America. Of course, it wasn't the first unprovoked attack against America. I think, for example, you can go back to 1979, November 4th, when the US embassy in Tehran was taken over and American diplomatic personnel were held hostage for 444 days for no legitimate reason. That is an act of war. Taking over somebody's embassy is an act of war. The United States did nothing; it did not retaliate when that happened.
In 1983 the US embassy in Beirut was bombed. The links to both Hezbollah and ultimately to Iran were very clear and very obvious. Subsequently the Marine barracks in Beirut were attacked and 244 marines were killed. Remember why those marines were there. They were there as part of a ceasefire mission, to protect the Muslims from being slaughtered by Christians. Now, should they have been there? I would say no. I don't believe our foreign policy that sends marines all over the world to be on peaceful missions is correct but it doesn't matter. It was unprovoked. The Marines were not there to kill Muslims; quite the contrary, they were there to save Muslims. They were there partially to prevent the Israelis from finishing off the remnant of the Palestinian terrorists that were still in Beirut, and yet they were brutally slaughtered by the Iranians and the Hezbollah – we could go on and on with how terrorists and Iranian intelligence and PLO have killed Americans all over the world and America has done nothing in retaliation.
And then in 1993 a car bomb explodes underneath the Twin Towers to try to bring them down. Links to existing terrorist groups in the Middle East are quite clear, the people are captured and the plot fails. The people are captured, the links to terrorist organizations in the Middle East are clear. Again the United States again does absolutely nothing, and it's a paper tiger. Throughout the '90s there are small and large terrorist attacks including the bombing of our embassies in Tanzania, Nairobi and Kenya. Hundreds of people are killed and thousands injured, both Americans and Africans. So that is an act of war. There have been numerous attacks on America leading up to 9/11 and the Americans did nothing to provoke them.
Then, of course, they flew airplanes into buildings that killed 3,000 Americans. They could have easily killed 40,000 Americans if the towers had fallen quicker or struck at a different time of day. It was to kill many Americans and it was completely unprovoked, and America needed to do something, finally, after 30 years of terrorist acts against it and I don't think it did much. I think we are heading towards an era when 9/11 type attacks are only going to intensify and increase and where the state sponsorship of terrorism will only increase, and where the terrorists in the Middle East will only be more emboldened to kill more Westerners and more Americans.
Daily Bell: Do you think the 9/11 investigations should be re-opened?
Dr. Yaron Brook: No. The investigations identified the basic facts of the attacks. What we still need to carry out is a public inquiry into the ideas and intellectual myopia that shaped US foreign policy for the preceding decades. Our government failed to connect the dots: It was, in my view, a failure of US policy that our government didn't properly grasp the nature of the increasingly audacious jihadist movement and its state sponsors. I mentioned earlier the string of pre-9/11 attacks – and America's feeble responses – that emboldened the Islamist aggressors to ratchet up their ambitions and bring their holy war to US soil.
Daily Bell: Let's ask some financial questions. Why did you move to the US to study business and finance? You started an investment consulting business called BH Equity Research, located in San Jose, California. Tell us about that.
Dr. Yaron Brook: I moved to the United States in 1987 and got my MBA at the University of Texas in Austin. I then got a PhD in Finance at the University of Texas. I then was a science professor for seven years at Santa Clara University in California and then started BH Equity Research with a partner, who is still a professor at Santa Clara University. For ten years we consulted for a hedge fund or advised what are called market mutual strategies for this hedge fund. Between 1999 and 2006 we also managed a portfolio of private equity investments for high net worth individuals. Then in 2006 we raised our own private equity fund to invest in bank stocks and small community bank stocks. We have raised more money since then and today both manage money in the context of private equity but more of a hedge fund. We specialize really in investments in community banks. Both as long buy investments and short selling investments.
Daily Bell: Do you believe the US and the world are headed for a depression?
Dr. Yaron Brook: What we know is the economic policies of the US and Europe are disastrous and the long-term consequences are all bad. The economic policies of today are unsustainable. The fact that the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates at zero right now is clearly distortive and creates mal-investment, bubbles and inflation.
Unless there's a fundamental change in course, I believe we're heading toward some form of economic catastrophe. But how that catastrophe manifests itself and the timeline, it's hard to say. I know for sure, though, that bad economic policies have bad consequences.
Daily Bell: What do you think of central banking? Should central banks be done away with?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes. I believe in private banking. I believe that currencies should be based probably on a gold standard, but certainly a market-determined standard.
Daily Bell: Is there some sort of power elite that controls central banks and intends to impose a New World Order?
Dr. Yaron Brook: No. That's a foolish idea. Libertarians do themselves a disservice when they get caught up in conspiracy theories. I think the world is pretty straightforward. The world is dominated by really, really bad ideas, by a lot of ignorance, a bad moral code and really bad ideas about politics, which drive people to do things that are not in their (or our) long-term self interest. I think central banks are an example of poor economic understanding and of a moral code that requires that government control as much of our lives as possible. I think this is fundamentally an ideological battle, a battle of ideas, a philosophical battle.
The destructive ideas dominating our culture are out in the open. They emanate from the universities. Their advocates are out in the open, blaring at us from lecture halls, pulpits, political rallies, editorial pages, TV and radio. What's devastating our world is the impact of intellectuals – professors, writers, economists, think-tankers – who advocate for Keynesianism, subjectivism, socialism, existentialism, post modernism, all these ideologies that are anti-capitalist, anti-individual rights, anti-freedom.
Daily Bell: So let's talk about Atlas Shrugged a bit. The movie was out this past year and people are drawing parallels based on what is currently happening in society and the book. Can you give us your take?
Dr. Yaron Brook: With the unfolding of the financial crisis, Atlas Shrugged has received increased visibility in the news in the last four years. 2009 was its peak year in terms of book sales. In its best year ever previous to 2009, Atlas Shrugged sold just over 200,000 copies. In 2009 it sold about half a million copies, which is unheard of, by the way – half a million copies for a 52 year old book (in 2009) is unheard of in the publishing business. Last year, 2011, it sold 445,000 copies and Atlas Shrugged was everywhere.
Yes, I think people see the parallels in the book and what's happening with everything around us. They're looking for answers. What's unique about Atlas Shrugged is not only that it gives us answers, but it gives us solutions. It presents the philosophical explanation for what is going on today in terms of cause and effect, but it also gives us the solutions to these problems and a philosophy that completely turns upside down the statist regimes and the statist ideologies of today and presents us, for the first time in history, with a consistent philosophy that is pro-individual rights, pro-individualism. And I think that's what makes us unique and that's what is so attractive about it and why it selling so much.
Daily Bell: Would you call it a political novel or philosophical one?
Dr. Yaron Brook: First and foremost, Atlas Shrugged is a brilliant novel that draws people in because of its mysterious plot and the larger than life characters. Politics is definitely part of the story, but it's one derivative consequence of the deeper philosophical theme. The novel conveys the destructive results that follow when certain moral ideas shape a society, an economy, the mind of an individual. What emerges from the story is how philosophy drives politics, how the code of selflessness in morality necessitates state intervention, necessitates the destruction of capitalism.
But Rand also dramatizes and articulates a positive vision, a new moral ideal for mankind. A lesson of the novel is that only rational, long-term self-interest can serve as a solid foundation on which to build a capitalist society.
Rand was distinctive in advocating that capitalism as a political system needs a proper moral-philosophical foundation. Politics, in Rand's view, doesn't stand on its own; it is a consequence of philosophic ideas, ideas in ethics, a view of human nature.
She disagreed with libertarians. She believes to ground liberty you need a philosophy. You need a particular view of morality, and in this case, a morality of rational self-interest. You need a particular view of epistemology, of how we know reality: We have to be advocates for reason. She argued that to build a laissez faire capitalist society, we need to base it on the principles of self-interest and the principles of reason and that if we try to circumvent that, which she believed the libertarian movement so often does, we end up losing the battle. We cannot succeed unless we reject the existing moral code, which is pro self-sacrifice, a selfless moral code, unless we reject that in favor of self-interest. Selflessness is consistent with statism. Only self-interest is consistent with capitalism,and that's part of the message of Atlas Shrugged.
Daily Bell: How is ARI doing these days? Membership is growing, lots of interest?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes, our membership is growing dramatically and our income is growing dramatically; we have grown fivefold in terms of revenue over the last 10 years. Revenue means contributions because we are not for profit. Interest in our products is growing and visibility is growing. By every parameter – interest in these ideas, books sales and everything – is growing. And I believe we're starting to have an impact on the philosophical, intellectual, political debate that is happening out there.
Daily Bell: Any closing thoughts? Any other books or resources you would like to mention?
Dr. Yaron Brook: Yes. I would like to point out I will have a book coming out in September this year called The Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government. I am really excited about that book. And of course, I encourage everybody to read Ayn Rand, and not just Atlas Shrugged but to really understand her philosophical ideas. I think if you read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, The Virtue of Selfishness, you will really understand how Ayn Rand ties economic politics to fundamental basic philosophical ideas.
Daily Bell: Thanks for speaking with us.
Dr. Yaron Brook: Thank you for your interest.
[Note: The hyperlinked definitions were created by The Daily Bell. Dr. Brook’s use of those terms does not imply any agreement with those definitions.]
We thank Dr. Yaron Brook for participating in this interview. We agreed to let him speak for himself and the Institute and he was willing to do so, so we won't comment further except to thank him for his forthrightness in speaking up and for presenting the above views. Such opinions are certainly not shared by all within our audience but certainly readers can benefit by understanding a variety of positions within the Randian community, and Dr. Brook is surely an able spokesperson for the Institute's views.
Posted by ScottJ on 02/13/12 01:32 AM
I see I'm not the only one to have read only 5 responses in to see that Yaron Brooks is still working for the Israeli Deception Department. I, too, read my first Ayn Rand book at 16, The Fountainhead, and her philosophy changed my life also, but that is where the similarities seem to end between Dr. Brooks and I. Ayn encouraged me to always seek truth, no matter how difficult or inconvenient, but apparently encouraged Brooks to hijack it for his national agenda. When you hear Yaron Brooks talk about "America's enemys", you can be assured he is actually talking about Israel's.
Posted by TPaine on 02/13/12 01:14 AM
stupid randroid nazi
Posted by Agent Pete 8 on 02/13/12 12:52 AM
Wow, thanks Anthony for the surprise!
I will stay out of any of the irrelevant argument with this one, but I can't wait to see Alexsemen's response.
Tip: Have the courage to say "NO".
Posted by aikishugyo on 02/13/12 12:22 AM
I'm adding to the list of people whose reaction has been "wow, just wow... "
Reminds me of the Andre Leon interview, but far more polarized and extreme (disclaimer: I still have South African citizenship).
Odd that Dr. Brook can bring forth coherent arguments about finance, getting virtually to the root cause of things (Federal Reserve), whereas his arguments about political conflict with the Islamic world make little sense owing to his subjective choice of events to use as postulates (or axioms, the way he seems to state things) for the assumptions of his arguments.
His argument regarding the role of government makes me ponder whether an economic-oriented analogy would go something like this: "inter-state trade is in the purview of government taxation, thus anything that might be traded inter-state at some point should also be taxed right now".
Perhaps if Dr. Brook would consider the economics of government action, he might come to realize that there has to be a limit on how much resources citizens of a country will allow their government to squander before they consider it no longer worthwhile: no more marginal return on safety or what have you.
The "funds" for government action are now provided via legislation of fiat money with no remedy available to citizens directly, clearly the wet dream of those with delusions of grandeur. I wish Dr. Brook had spent some time clarifying how he envisaged government to be restricted---he stated it was but turned the restriction into completely unrestricted purview.
Posted by penelope on 02/12/12 11:50 PM
Danny B, If I were you I would check out the agenda behind the Environmentalists religion. It is another part of the scam. I am afraid my ability to work this lap-top doesn't run to putting up Click to view link, but you could try googling www.globalreport2010. A couple of weeks ago they did a cracker on Environmentalist Agenda.
Posted by MetaCynic on 02/12/12 09:02 PM
I'm afraid that Ayn Rand would agree with Dr. Brook. Listen to this 1979 interview for her racist opinion of Arabs. Click to view link
Posted by MetaCynic on 02/12/12 09:02 PM
I'm afraid Ayn Rand that would agree with Dr. Brook. Listen to this 1979 interview to hear her racist opinion of Arabs. Click to view link
Posted by MetaCynic on 02/12/12 09:01 PM
I'm afraid Ayn Rand would agree with Dr. Brook. Listen to this 1979 interview to hear her racist opinion of Arabs. Click to view link
Posted by Summer on 02/12/12 08:55 PM
Thanks. Fabulous response.
Posted by MetaCynic on 02/12/12 08:26 PM
Oops! The last sentence of my 2nd paragraph is a bit garbled. It should read: "Why is it beyond the pale that social and economic chaos brought about by intellectual confusion is in the interest of powerful and wealthy individuals to secretly promote in order to acquire more power and wealth?"
As an aside, it would be helpful if DB had a feature allowing comments to be edited after being posted.
Posted by bionic mosquito on 02/12/12 08:03 PM
Malthus... here we go again (for the seven-billionth time).
I recall reading something like... the entire world's population could live in Texas, with XXX hundred square feet of living space per person. I don't want to look it up, because you present yourself as one for whom facts are irrelevent.
To the extent there is actually a shortage of resources, the roots all point to state intervention. You point to water; in most of the world water is controlled by government. Coincidence? No. Food? Once again, one of the more government-interfered industries in society.
There is no resource issue. There is no overpopulation issue. These are DSTs created to cause fear, this causing people to accept government enforced "solutions".
Private property, upholding contract, market based pricing, and discipline of profit and loss enforced by the market: if these factors are allowed to work in a relatively free manner, resources will be used in the most efficient manner; as demand for certain resources exceeds supply, price signals will ensure that alternatives will be properly developed.
More importantly, you have not addressed: how would you enforce this so-called crime against humanity? Kill the baby? Kill the parents? Government enforced sterilization? Carpet bomb any region with a population density of more than [fill in your dictated number here]?
You cannot speak about this crime without speaking of the punishment. 'Fess up, what would you advocate? Without an answer, it is easy to conclude you don't believe the blarney you are peddling.
Posted by mrmibs on 02/12/12 07:44 PM
Bravo - very well reasoned response to that phony objectivist. I have been a student of Ayn Rand since the 70's. This guy is as closed minded and anti-scientific as they come. I also think Leonard Piekoff has done more damage to the Obectivist movement as anyone. After 9-11 he advocated Nuking Iran - on national TV - totally obliterating millions of innocent people. He is a lunatic, cetainly not any kind of "Heir" to Ayn Rand.
Posted by Thomas Molitor on 02/12/12 07:34 PM
"Nobody wants world domination."
This statement alone undercuts the entire premise behind DB's hypothesis of the PE.
"Yes, I believe that the regimes that support terrorism should be destroyed."
Would Dr. Brook include America as one of these regimes? Many feel the biggest threat to world peace is the American government.
I'll stop here because I could do a line-by-line takedown of Dr. Brook but haven't the energy right now. Let's just leave it that the Rand Center has made a major mistake putting this guy in this leadership position. Notice Dr. Brook does not include Israel as one of the leading state-sponsored terrorist counties, which Noam Chomsky does. Dr. Brook is wrong on so many levels that it it astounding that his reading of Atlas Shrugged has led him to his mean-spirited hallucinogenic view of the world.
Posted by D19 on 02/12/12 07:33 PM
An Israeli Texan... .could there be anything more dangerous to society?
Posted by Saintpaulia on 02/12/12 07:18 PM
@Friend of John Galt who wrote: "As for the conspiracy of the power elite -- I've often had difficulties with the DB on some of their views in that regard. I'm not so certain that it's as simple as Dr. Brook suggests, but I'm also not convinced that the power elite are as organized and unified as DB often seems to suggest. (There are times, in my opinion, that DB gets mighty close to the "tinfoil hat" crowd.) My own supposition is that the power elite exist, but are only loosely connected as fellow travelers on the path to statism and a "world government" based on a UN model -- or using the UN and its related institutions as a stepping stone to a more organized super-government. Of course, I object to that future simply because it further degrades the individual rights that are the corner-stone of Objectivism".
One might take this stance as it certainly requires much less work in reading between the lines of the news of the day. Not the news you get via the Mainstream Media of course.
My "conversion" to this, if you will, conspiracy theory of the Power Elite, arose of necessity. The old saying, 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action'. (Ian Fleming in Goldfinger) applies for me.
Once you begin to sit down and make a list of all the current actions of governments world-wide, and notice how many of them are the same regardless of the country or region, you begin to wonder. One sees the whole GMO attack upon what was once a simple human right to feed oneself what one wishes and to have the simple human right to grow that food occurring in most English-speaking nations (it has failed in Europa). Or to use another example the use of so-called "geo-engineering" via high altitude dispersal of various materials that cloud what were once clear blue skies, and which are "raining" down upon us who knows what. There is no governmental oversight on these activities! Just as there was no governmental oversight on the safety of GMOs. I can give you many more but this should suffice to indicate that there is something very odd about it all.
Posted by Danny B on 02/12/12 07:09 PM
Mr Mosquito, while most groups have a varied past, there are exceptions.
The Jains would be at one end and , I suppose, the Jesuits would be at the other.
Also, with the advent of mechanized agriculture and birth control, there hasn't been as much "smiting" done in the recent past.
On the question of; a high birth rate being a crime. It's a crime against those born in a territory that does not have the resources at home to feed all the people.
India is a good example. It has no reserves of farmland.
Much of the world is running out of water.
Click to view link
So, while a high birthrate may not be a crime today, it will have Malthusian effects eventually. There are lots of advances in agriculture.
Click to view link
As many countries have found out, it's just too hard to improve the standard of living when they can never catch up to population growth.
Click to view link
Posted by jdb on 02/12/12 06:17 PM
UNBELIEVABLE ... .Ayn Rand would never agree with this rubbish...
Just another war-monger..
Reply from The Daily Bell
DB is a free-market publication; as the Rand Institute is putatively free-market facility, we felt its views are part of our journalistic brief.
However, we were surprised by the tenor of the responses, and in fact we are unclear as to whether Rand herself would endorse what is in this interview.
Dr. Brook certainly knows of our libertarian views and the free-market tenor of our readership. Thus, he should not be surprised if his views receive criticism here.
Elsewhere, of course, they might not ...
Posted by goldandsilverbug on 02/12/12 05:50 PM
Only the Daily Bell would bring us David Icke one week and Yaron Brook the next - two completely opposite ends of the think tank. Both have been interesting to say the least, very individual.
Posted by scousekraut on 02/12/12 05:33 PM
No wonder the world is in such a mess is all I can think of saying after reading this.
Posted by MetaCynic on 02/12/12 05:01 PM
It's interesting that despite generations of centralization of government power, Dr. Brook sees no conspiracy among the elites in the West to further tighten our shackles under a world government, yet he is certain that toothless old Islam is conspiring to forcibly make us all devout Muslims.
Here is an intellectual, a man devoted to reason who sees nothing absurd, inconsistent or irrational in the government's conspiracy theory regarding the events of 9/11. It's all the fault of the evil Muslims, case closed. True, as Dr. Brook points out, the growing police state in America is due to defective philosophies peddled by intellectuals. But who is it that finances these intellectuals through their universities, think tanks and foundations? It's certainly not the general public. Why is it beyond the pale that social and economic chaos brought about by intellectual confusion is not in the interest of powerful and wealthy individuals to secretly promote who desiring yet more power and wealth?
The tenets of Islam are not new. They have been around for many centuries. If, according to Dr. Brook, Islam in its core beliefs is so hostile to, the now much eroded, core values of American life, then why has Islam waited so long to attack the West and America in particular? Why didn't the Ottoman Empire, near its high water mark in the 18th century, try to strangle the infant United States in its cradle? Those strange, new and pure American values of reason, liberty, individualism and limited government must at that time have seemed particularly threatening to Islam's alleged goal of dominating all mankind.
There are 9 million Muslims living in the U.S. If only 1% of them are frothing-at-the-mouth true believers in Sharia law, that would mean that 90,000 potential suicide bombers are out there chomping at the bit to wreak havoc on the American Way. With all that hate out there, why have the crazies been so silent since 9/11? We should have expected an average of about 24 attacks on American soil from disgruntled Muslim Americans per day since 9/11. Despite the best efforts of our government, we are still a pretty open society with all kinds of tools for creating mayhem readily available. Yet nothing has happened. Why? Are the crazies waiting for a sign from Allah? Or maybe a signal from Iran which hasn't invaded another country in two centuries and which is surrounded by 45 U.S. military bases with no foreign bases of its own?
Maybe Iranians are hostile to the U.S. because the CIA in the mid 1950's assisted in overthrowing the democratically elected Iranian prime minister and replacing him with the puppet dictator, Shah. Perhaps the Iraqi, Afghan and now Libyan people hate us not because of American reality TV show circuses but because the American government has killed hundreds of thousands of them and physically wrecked their home countries.
Just as the response of leftists to their failed social engineering programs is not to abandon those interventions but to aggressively redouble the efforts with different managers, so too Dr. Brook faults Bush's and Obama's failed wars on wimpish military action against the wrong targets. Instead of killing a million Iraqis who had nothing to do with 9/11, the individualist Dr. Brook believes that the U.S. government ought to have imposed collective punishment on another nation and ferociously killed millions of Iranians who also had nothing to do with 9/11. How's that for Randian reason, individual rights and the right to life?