Friday, 13 February 2009

ARI outreach hits London [updated]

NOT PC readers who, like me, follow the progress of Objectivism with great interest will be very pleased to hear of the Ayn Rand Institute's new "outreach" programme.  Kenneth Irvine spoke to Ayn Rand Institute head Yaron Brook about it after Brook's talk at London's libertarian Adam Smith Institute.  He reports here that the future looks fruitful.

    ARI is engaging with think tanks, libertarian and conservative, on both sides of Atlantic as part of an outreach programme. He spoke positively about working with Cato and FEE in the US and the Adam Smith Institute and IEA in the UK. Dr Brook spoke critically of the Mises Institute, and the Independent Institute, especially on foreign policy and their anarcho-capitalist politics. [Read on for more.]

I agree this is by far the least attractive part of LewRockwell.Com and the Mises Institute, and seriously undermines the superb economic commentary both otherwise provide – which unlike their other commentary is based four-square on von Mises’s path-breaking work.

And if it’s true that this is the apparently insuperable obstacle in the long overdue rehabilitation of George Reisman in the ARI ranks, that would be very sad indeed.

UPDATE: Here's the Adam Smith Institute's write up of the event.

The main argument that Dr Brook advanced ... was that defenders of freedom must do more than just talk about economics. They also need to make the moral case for capitalism and rational egoism. Freedom to pursue your own interests must not be reduced in argument to a utilitarian system of maximizing outcomes, Brook said, but should instead be celebrated and advocated as the ultimate, moral ideal. And that, of course, is what Ayn Rand did so well.

All in all, then, an excellent evening. And despite Rand's relative obscurity in the UK, a very well attended one too.


  1. I kinda like MI/IndInst on foreign policy: if you don't blow other folks up, they'll tend to leave you alone, and propping up dictatorships in the mid-east tends to make folks there want to blow us up. I don't particularly like MI's anti-immigration stands (which often sound anti-immigrant more than anything else), but am pretty sympathetic to their take on foreign policy.

    Anarcho-capitalism is at least a massively interesting thought experiment. Would I push the button to make it so? Probably not, but I'd put about 3/7 chance that freedom would increase substantially (2/7 that we'd devolve back to govt again, and 2/7 that we'd turn instead to a Hobbes world). Patri Friedman's push towards seasteading could provide a fantastic real-world implementation -- greatly looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

  2. My own view, Eric, is that both 'blowback' and anarcho-capitalism are both best described as examples of wishful thinking

    To quote Madison (with respect to the need for objective government), "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

    And to paraphrase Madison (about the flaw in 'blowback theory,' "If our enemies were angels, they'd all tend to leave us alone." But they don't -- and won't -- no matter how gentle one might be with them.

    Didn't work with the Barbary Coast pirates, didn't work with the nationalised Middle Eastern and South American oil fields, and wouldn't work now any better.

  3. On blowback: of course US ought to be very ready to immediately and massively retaliate against foreign aggression. I tend to think though that longstanding presence of US bases in places like Saudi Arabia don't improve American security. We can't run the counterfactual, but I'd tend to think that the probability of 9/11 would have dropped substantially had the US not had sanctions on Iraq or bases in S.A. Madison and the others did also worry about avoiding foreign entanglements, if we're wanting to quote the founders....

  4. The main argument that Dr Brook advanced ... was that defenders of freedom must do more than just talk about economics. They also need to make the moral case for capitalism and rational egoism

    Which most libertarians, and indeed Objectivists, do not do.

    One needs to define what a 'capitalist' actually is. And most on Wall St are not capitalists.

    Andrew Bernstein (sp) wrote a very good essay on capitalism a few years back.

    As for Reisman - ARI judges people by the company they keep. Quite right, too. Rockwell and Mises are ok economically, but the rest of their stuff is garbage. The economic commentary cannot redeem the sites.

  5. "Rockwell and Mises are ok economically"

    Pearls before swine - with guys like Reisman, Shostak, Murphy and Hulsmann - is the intellectual leader in economics.

    PC, would be good if we could hear about this stuff before it happens.


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