Ayn Rand: Radical for Capitalism

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Yaron Brook
October 11, 2007 | Universidad Francisco Marroquín | Duración:..
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  • Capitalism is the most successful economic and political system in the world.  Wherever it has been established, from the United States of America to China, it has resulted in unprecedented productivity and improvement of the quality of the living of the people. 
  • Nevertheless, capitalism is almost never defended from the moral point of view.  Many economists recognize the practical merits of capitalism, but even many of those who defend it, also condemn it as an immoral and egoist system, or as a necessary evil. 
  • To combat this point of view, our guest will present a particular defense of capitalism.  A defense that Ayn Rand based in a revolutionary moral system, based in the self rational interest.  It is time, he will argue, for the world to know not only the practical justifications for capitalism, but also its moral justification. 
  • Our lecturer is executive president of the Ayn Rand Institute.  Although his formation is mainly in business and finance, in his relationship with the Institute he has become one of the most prominent promoters of objectivism.  In those capacities, and as an expert in foreign policy and in the Middle East, he appears frequently on TV and on the radio and his op-eds are often published in print. 
  • He was First Sergeant in the Israeli Military Intelligence.  He obtained his masters and doctorate degrees at the University of Texas at Austin, and he was professor of ethics and finance at the Santa Clara University.  Please, welcome Dr. Yaron Brook. 
  • Let me thank you all for being here.  In particularly, I would like to thank the board of trustees, the board of directors, the leadership, the faculty of this University, and not only for inviting me, and thank you for that, but really I want to thank you for existing, for having this University. 
  • I travel a lot, as part of my responsibilities at the Ayn Rand Institute, at universities all across the country, all across the United States, and to some extent, all across the world.  And 99.9 percent of them are not dedicated to freedom, to put it mildly, but dedicated for the most part to the opposite. 
  • To a large extent -- and Ayn Rand identified this 50 years ago, and we see it everyday in our interactions on campuses all across the world -- today's universities are dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and freedom. 
  • And it is just unbelievable, and a pleasure, to come to a true house of liberty, to come to a true institution that is dedicated to freedom.  So, really, thank you for doing everything that you do, and please continue it, because as Giancarlo and I discussed over lunch today, the path to freedom goes through the universities. 
  • The path to capitalism goes through the universities.  A hope for a freer society, a freer society hopefully sooner than anybody expects, here in Guatemala, and soon in the United States; the hope is the young generation.  And, the universities are where the young generation gets educated. 
  • The universities are where the young generations gain the ideas and there's no more importance, in my view and, if I speak for Ayn Rand, in Ayn Rand's view, there's no more important institution in which to advocate for capitalism than in the universities. 
  • And, a big part of what we do at the Ayn Rand Institute is to try to get into the universities, but it's hard, and it's really a pleasure to come to a place where it's easy.  It's very unusual. 
  • Ayn Rand was born about 103 years ago.   Atlas Shrugged was published 50 years ago; 50 years ago, yesterday.  What is it about Ayn Rand?  What is it about  Atlas Shrugged that keeps us interested, that keeps us doing events like this, commemorating this novel and this woman? 
  • All over the world, this week, certainly all over the United States, they have events that are similar to this, I think this is one of the biggest, but are similar to this in terms of commemorating this novel.  What is it about these ideas that keep them alive? 
  • More people are buying  Atlas Shrugged today in bookstores; more people are reading  Atlas Shrugged today than in any point in history.  The growth of sales of  Atlas Shrugged is a constant upward slope.  It's 50 years old; we are told we live in a new era.  I think what keeps this book alive, what keeps Ayn Rand alive, is the power of these ideas. 
  • And, the fact that with every decade that passes, since the publication of the book, the ideas become more, not less, relevant; the ideas become more, not less, important to the survival of capitalism, to the survival of the entrepreneurial spirit -- that was celebrated here, and is celebrated here tonight. 
  • And, why is that?  Luis indicated, I think, a part of the answer to that: Everybody knows capitalism works, it's obvious.  You just have to have eyes and half a brain.  I mean, look at Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall came down and look at Eastern Europe today.  Look at Hong Kong in the 1970s and 80s; look at China in the 1970s and 80s. 
  • Go back and study the history of the United States to the XIX and XX century, or the history of Great Britain through the XIX and XX century, and compare it to anywhere in the world. 
  • It is obvious; it is obvious, perceptually almost, that capitalism creates wealth; that capitalism and freedom go together; that capitalism promotes, creates, a higher standard of living for everybody. 
  • The poor in America are much richer than the middle class in many parts of the world, if not in most of the world.  And, we are only seeing more of that with the relative freedom now in China producing phenomenal results in terms of wealth creation and standard of living increases, the Asian Tigers are all over the world. 
  • We have seen signs that capitalism works.  And yet, in a country like America, if you will, the homeland, the fountainhead, of this wonderful political, economic system, we are seeing a clear systemic movement away from capitalism; less and less freedom, more and more government control. 
  • And, it doesn't matter if you are a democrat or a republican, the movement is steady: Away from freedom.  Why?  How can this be?  We have seen the consequences of freedom, why aren't they accepted?  Why aren't they acknowledged? 
  • Why isn't America looking at the rest of the world and seeing what it should have known, to begin with: The kind of prosperity that capitalism leads to?  Why isn't it shifting towards more freedom, towards more capitalism, towards less regulation, towards less government intervention in the economy? 
  • And, I think the answer to that, Ayn Rand's answer to that is that when people have a choice between doing what they think works, what they think is practical, what they think will lead them to wealth and to a higher standard of living, and between what they think is right, model, just, people ultimately choose to do what's right, 
  • even if it costs them a few bucks and higher taxes and more regulations and a lower standard of living.  Now, I know to the economists in the audience, this is shocking because the premise in economics is: Everybody is a utility maximizer and therefore everybody always chooses that decision that will maximize their wealth, their monetary well being.  But, the fact is people don't behave that way. 
  • Because there is something more fundamental, more important to people, than money, than wealth, than standard of living, even than freedom; and, that is they want to know that what they are doing is right, it's just, it's moral, that they are good people.  And, to me, that is the real challenge that we face; it's easy, again, not to dismiss you economists, but it's easy to show capitalism works. 
  • It's easy to show its material benefits.  What's hard and what's challenging, particularly given the history of philosophy and religion over the last 2000 years, what is really challenging is to show people, is to convince people, is to prove to people that capitalism is moral, that it's just, that it's right, that it's good.  Why is that?  Why is it so difficult? 
  • I think the reason is that every ethical system that we were brought up on, that is taught in our schools from where we are that size to when we go to university, the ethics that we are taught is the exact opposite to the ethics that capitalism requires.  It's the exact opposite of the ethics that is required to defend capitalism. 
  • We are taught from when we are very little all the way to our philosophy classes and PhD programs, all across the world, that the one thing that everyone can agree on, and they disagree on the exact definition of what's good and just and right, but there's one thing that they know is evil; everybody knows this thing is bad, we use it with our kids.  
  • The one thing that everyone can agree on, no matter what philosophy they advocate, no matter what religion they come from, everybody agrees that selfishness, that the egoism, that self-interest is bad. 
  • We point to the kid who is the bad kid in the group and we call him what?  We call him selfish, we call him self-interested, we call him an egoist.  Yet, what do we do every day as businessmen when we go into business as a capitalist, what do we try to do?  Well, we are trying to figure out a way to maximize our profits; our profits, our company's profit, not a competitor's profits, our profits. 
  • What is that?  That's a pretty selfish thing to do.  When we trade, when we trade with one another, what are we trying to do in that trade?  We are trying to benefit whom?  Do we go into a trade trying to benefit the other side of the deal?  When we go into an automobile dealership to buy a car, do we negotiate with the auto dealer in order for him to be better off? 
  • No.  We go in and trade in order for us to be better off.  Every action in capitalism is an action that is self-interested, it is an action motivated by trying to make our lives better off; and yes, absolutely, everybody benefits from that. 
  • The other side benefits because in a trade you benefit, but they benefit as well.  When you maximize profit, it allows you to pay your employees, it allows you to create more jobs, it allows you to create economic activity, absolutely.  But, ultimately, the reason you are doing it and the way it is obviously perceived by the rest of the world is that it is a self-interested act. 
  • And yet, if we are told from when we are infants to when we are PhDs in philosophy that being self-interested, acting in our own naked self-interest is evil, is bad, then when I look into an entrepreneur, I say: "Okay, I can see that all these alternative effects can create stuff, but what motivates him?" 
  • And, it's his own well-being.  It's his own self-fulfillment.  Some people don't do it for money, but they do it because they love it; they are enjoying it, it's fun.  That's pretty selfish: They are having fun.  It's them: They are having fun. 
  • And, if I'm brought up thinking that self-interest is a bad thing, I look at these entrepreneurs, I look at these businessmen, I look at the capitalists and I say: "Wait a minute.  That is wrong; there is something unpleasant about this.  There is something that does not feel right about this." 
  • And, what we usually try, what our usual defense of capitalism is: "Look, that's right, it's unseemly, right, the whole self-interest, it's unseemly, it's not pleasant, it's not nice, but you know, if you can just tolerate that, everything works out." 
  • You know, in a sense, this is Adam Smith's defense of capitalism: Everything works out, if each of you behave in an unseemly way by following the wrong self-interest, society is better off.  Well, you know what?  Nobody buys that.  And, even if they buy it in terms of their money, they don't buy it in terms of wealth, in terms of standard of living; they don't buy it in terms of what they think is right. 
  • So, if somebody says: "We are going to tax the rich.  The rich need to pay a lot of taxes, because there are people here who are poor, they are suffering."  And, your moral standard is that the benefit of other people is what's important. 
  • Then, why not tax the rich guy and give it to the poor people who are suffering right now?  And, the rich guy is going to say what?  He is going to say: "You know what?  I haven't been giving enough for charity. 
  • I don't deserve all this, because I know that my moral idea, the moral idea that we are all taught, the positive moral idea we are all taught, is to focus on other people to focus on the suffering, to focus on the meek, to focus on the hopeless." 
  • And, therefore, nobody stops the taxes.  And, of course, they always start with taxes that are a little bit, and then they start growing and then they grow; you know, the first income tax in the United States was...  Only the top 7 percent richest people in the United States were taxed and the rate was 5 percent. 
  • And, they promised it would never be any higher than that.  This is 1914, by 1918 during World War I, the top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent and almost everybody paid taxes. 
  • It doesn't take politicians long to figure out how to extract that.  And, nobody said anything, because once you accept the fact that these people have been self-interested and that they have been successful because they pursued their own interest and these people over here are suffering, then the transition, taking from one and giving to the other, is obvious. 
  • And, there's another element.  What else do we associate with self-interest?  Going after money, having fun, all of that; but, what else is being implanted in our minds as associated with self-interest?  Well, it's lying, stealing, not caring about other people, putting them down; that's what the other guys, the people who hate capitalism, want us to believe that self-interest is. 
  • So, when I see a businessman pursuing profit -- not me but the pretended me -- if I see a businessman pursuing profit and is self-interested, I immediately associate with that chum all the bad stuff.  I'm sure that when I said selfish and egoist, many of the people in the audience, the first thing that came to their mind was: "Oh, those horrible people" 
  • because we are taught, again, from when we are very young to associate self-interest with lying, stealing and cheating, with not caring about people, with not caring about your employees, with not caring about other people around you.  That is the perception. 
  • So, if I see a businessman being successful, I immediately associate...  My mother used to tell me this, she used to say: "Every millionaire is a crook."  She was a good Jewish intellectual socialist.  Every millionaire is a crook.  Why?  Because they pursue their own self-interest, and to pursue their self-interest means cheating, lying, stealing.  There's no other way to make money.  And, this is the common perception out there because of that linkage. 
  • What Ayn Rand does, and does brilliantly, is to break that linkage.  She says: "You've got it all wrong; it's not in your self-interest to lie, steal or cheat, that's complete nonsense, it's bad for you, that's self-destructive. 
  • And it -- she says -- it's not moral to care about other people more than you care about yourself; that's not what morality is about."  And, she builds a structure, and you can see it's outlined in  Atlas Shrugged, you can see the nature; she built characters in  Atlas Shrugged who are selfish. 
  • I know, I feel in the audience there are still people who... you don't like that word.  You know, she wrote a book called  The Virtue of Selfishness, she was not afraid of this word.  John Galt is selfish.  Why is he doing what he is doing? for those of you who have read the book, he's doing it because he wants to create a better world for whom?  For himself and the people he loves. 
  • Why does Rearden create Rearden Metal?  To make society better?  To improve the lives of everybody?  Well, as a consequence; but, what motivates him, why does he do it?  What's the passion?  Because it's his challenge, he loves it and he wants to enjoy the fruits of his creation. He's doing it for himself. 
  • Why does Dagny run the railroad?  So that the moochers can take the money that she produces?  So that she can be taxed and regulated to death?  No.  She runs the railroad because she loves the railroad since she was very little.  She loves those train tracks, she loves the whole idea. It's her passion.  And Rearden and Galt and Dagny, would they ever... can you imagine... again, for those of you who have read the book, can you imagine them ever lying, stealing or cheating? 
  • No.  I mean, that would be inconceivable to them.  Why?  Because lying, stealing and cheating, once you understand what is required for human life, for human success, for human prosperity, you realize that those things are self-destructive, they are bad for you; they are not good for you. 
  • So, Ayn Rand starts fresh, she starts with a clean slate in ethics.  And, she asks what the purpose of ethics is, why do we need morality, and she develops a morality from that basic fundamental question.  And, her view is that we need morality because we don't know automatically what good is and what evil is. 
  • We need a science to tell us.  And, we don't know automatically how to live, how to be successful, how to prosper, how to make the most out of our life. 
  • And, the whole ethical system in  Atlas Shrugged is all about what constitutes -- what kind of behavior, what kind of values, what kind of virtues -- constitute living, success, prosperity, making the most out of your own life. 
  • And, that's the foundation, that is her foundation for capitalism: That each one of us needs the freedom to pursue their own values, each one of us needs the freedom to follow their own path in life, each one of us needs to be left alone to pursue whatever we think is good for us. 
  • And, not the state, not the state and not any group, has the right to tell us what is good for us and not good for us.  And, the success of that kind of prosperity, that kind of ultimate fulfillment and happiness, comes from each of us pursuing our own values, rationally, with the thinking long term about what is good for our lives, in the very long term, what is most fulfilling, what is most important for us, 
  • and pursuing it, and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, learning from one's failures.  I don't know any businessman who hasnt failed at some point and learned from that and grown stronger and more successful as a consequence. 
  • And the one thing that Ayn Rand recognizes as the source of success is our mind; is rationality, is reason.  Reason is the way in which we thrive.  The use of our mind is the tool; the mind is our tool for success. 
  • And, what is the one thing that can stop our mind, that can stop our progress, that can stop us from achieving our values, from achieving life, from achieving happiness, from achieving success?  That one thing is the fist, is the gun, it's force. 
  • Anybody wielding force against us, that shuts us down, that stops us; we can't pursue our values.  They put a barrier in front of us; and as a consequence, she believes that force needs to be eradicated from the human society, 
  • and that the job of government, the only job of government, is to monopolize the use of force and to extract it out of society and to leave us free to do pretty much whatever we want to do as long as we are not using force against one another. 
  • So, capitalism is a consequence of this notion of each one of us pursuing our own happiness and left free to do so.  Her defense of capitalism rests... she said that she was an advocate for capitalism because she was an advocate for rational egoism. 
  • And, she was an advocate for rational egoism because she was an advocate for reason; that once you recognize the role of reason in human life, capitalism is just obvious philosophically, logically.  It's not so obvious, maybe it's obvious to Ayn Rand, but, you know, a lot of work has to be done and she has done a lot of that work, and I think we have all experienced a lot of that in  Atlas Shrugged. 
  • So, first of all, those who haven't read the book , I'm kind of going here on the assumption that you've already had, I encourage you to read it; it's a fascinating book. 
  • But, let me encourage all those who are advocates for freedom, all those who are advocates for capitalism, who value the entrepreneurial spirit, who value the fight for liberty, for capitalism -- let me urge you to think about capitalism not only as this economic system that works, that leads to prosperity, that's good, that we all like, but as a moral system. 
  • And, let me urge you to advocate not only for political revolution that will, in a sense, overturn the last few decades of increased government encroachment into our lives, but for much more important, much more fundamental and long term, the kind of revolution that we need in order to sustain capitalism, to move in the direction of capitalism: That is a moral revolution. 
  • A revolution that overthrows the notion of the nobility of sacrifice, self-sacrifice, and enshrines in its place a morality of rational self-interest, a morality of heroic businessmen, pursuing profit, because it's good for them.  It helps everybody else but it's also good for them and that's what makes it moral, because they are making their lives the best lives that they can have, and that, to me, is the peak of nobility. 
  • When we at universities like these and at universities all around the world, in the symposiums, in the lectures, when we start hearing this kind of defense of capitalism: Capitalism is moral; it's moral because it allows people to pursue their own self-interest, 
  • I think that is the real turning point or the tipping point, if you will, to a freer world.  And, while we have plenty -- and this is a guess, I will call it activism -- while we have plenty of economists who know free market economics, who have read von Mises, and Hayek and Friedman and all the good economists out there who get it, 
  • what we are really short of is advocates for the moral case for capitalism, advocates for why this system is the right system.  And, I think that to those of you who are still interested in that kind of activism, who want to change the world, who want to bring about a better society -- I have a feeling that this university is filled with people like that -- 
  • I call on you to join us in what I think is the most important revolution in human history, a revolution over what it means to be good, what it means to be just, what it means to be moral, I really think that the future of capitalism, the future of civilization depends on the outcome of that battle.  Thank you all. 
  • Tenemos un espacio abierto para preguntas, para aquellos de ustedes que quieran tomar la oportunidad, y tenemos a dos anfitriones con micrófonos listos para llegar a aquellos que puedan levantar su mano y quieran hacer una pregunta; así es que el tiempo es de ustedes. 
  • QUESTION: I want to know what Ayn Rand's vision was on religion.
  • ANSWER: Right off the bat.  You give me the hard question right at the beginning.  Ayn Rand was an advocate of reason.  She believed that reason was our only means of knowledge; it was our only way of knowing reality, of understanding it, and our only guide to action. 
  • So, the only way of making a decision about how to act in reality needed to be guided by reason.  Faith, which religion depends on, which is at the core, the heart of religion, is in Ayn Rand's view, in my view, the opposite of reason. 
  • When do we turn to faith?  We turn to faith when there are no more reasons, when we can't show something or prove something, or use our senses to observe something.  In a sense, faith is when we give up on reason.  And, she  viewed  them as opposites. 
  • And, that is the reason she was an atheist, because she believed that there was no evidence for faith, but that's the very nature of faith; if there was evidence there wouldn't be faith, it would be a probability estimate.  Faith is about believing in something without any evidence to its existence. 
  • So, she was an atheist.  She believed that religion was a form of philosophy; in a sense, a primitive form of philosophy where human beings need explanations about the universe; they need to understand what's going on out there and they need a notion of good and evil. 
  • And, before there was philosophy, religion was the one that provided them with that guide.  But, she believed that once the scientific revolution happened, once the industrial revolution happened, there was enough evidence of the ability of human reason to deal with the world, to discover truths about the world, including truths on morality, that religion was unnecessary. 
  • QUESTION: Dr. Brook, the history of the United States is a history of migration, capitalistic migration.  Once the European settled in the East Coast, they wanted a better life; they wanted land, they wanted freedom and they wanted to make money. 
  • So, they started moving west, and they did a great job: Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, you name it.  Today, there is a different capitalistic migration going on, it's no longer from the eastern part of the United States to the west; it starts down somewhere in South America, comes through Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, Mexico, and it's moving north. 
  • Now, we can look at it as a capitalistic migration.  A cab driver told me two days ago that his two daughters live in New Hampshire, and I thought: "My God, New Hampshire, why not in Los Angeles, everybody else, you know..." 
  • He said they opened a bakery called "El Quetzal" and I really scratched my head and said: "Who in New Hampshire knows what a  quetzal is?"  He said: "Yeah, but, you know, when it gets cold, and the coffee gets hot, and the smell of that bread seeks out into the street, people from all ethnicities and all racial groups, and everything..."  And, isn't that what capitalism is about: to make a profit? 
  • Now, would you care to comment on this immigration? 
  • ANSWER: I would love to comment on immigration.  I am actually writing a paper -- I'm supposed to be writing a paper right now on the history of immigration.  It's actually due tomorrow, I'm hoping for an extension. 
  • Not only is capitalism in America the story of this eastern migration, but you can't understand America without the fact that there was migration from Europe, migration from China, migration from South America, and at every point in time, during the last 200 and some years, really 500 years since the discovery of America.  So, America is a land of immigrants; that is not a cliché, it is true. 
  • Unfortunately -- and this really started in the late XIX century, intensified in the earlier XX century -- a combination of xenophobia, you know, a fear of other, a combination of bad economic understanding, the threat, the economic threat, supposedly, that immigrants posed; 
  • a combination of exactly the kind of elements that I was talking about, this notion of focusing one's attention on those that are suffering in society and only on them because that's our moral responsibility. 
  • So, the immigrants seemed to be competing with those people.  So, we want to keep them out because these people need to be protected.  And then, if you add to that the creation of a welfare state in the United States, it has basically shut America's borders, at least to legal immigrants. 
  • And, this started before World War I and intensified after World War I when hundreds of thousands of Europeans would have loved to come to America to escape the horrors of what was happening in Europe, and couldn't and were stuck in Europe to experience World War II; and it continues today, when millions of people all around the world would love to come to America to follow their dreams. 
  • I mean, to me, I think you're getting... I'm for open immigration; I'm for opening the borders of America.  To me, a young Mexican woman who is pregnant, who crosses a river, who crawls into America, to be able to give birth to a child so that the child will have a better life because he was born in America not in Mexico, to me that is an act of supreme heroism. 
  • I mean, what's she focused on?  She's focused on making her life better; she's focused on making her children's lives better.  And, we in America want to penalize her for that?  I mean that to me is horrific. 
  • So, I have a huge amount of respect -- I am an immigrant to America, I got my citizenship a few years ago, I am originally from Israel -- I have a huge respect for people who struggle to come to America, even when they do so illegally. 
  • There are stupid laws out there and when government creates bad laws, everybody loses.  You lose if you stay in South America in poverty and don't move to America because you are following the laws, you lose.  You lose if you do go to America and break the law because breaking the law is never a good thing. 
  • So, government, when it imposes irrational laws, creates... everybody loses from that.  So, I am an advocate of opening up America's borders, of restricting immigration only to people who are clear threats to the country: Criminals, terrorists, agents of foreign countries and to people carrying infectious diseases. 
  • Anybody else who wants to come in should be able to come in and if they... There are so many myths: Economic myths, cultural myths, associated with immigration, I couldn't now go over all of them, but I think you are absolutely right. 
  • And, I also believe -- and this, again, goes counter to much of what is said in America -- that America needs those immigrants; that they bring, particularly if America was to move towards more capitalism, they bring a certain energy, they bring a certain respect for what we in America have lost, and that is the admiration for freedom, the respect for capitalism, which many in America just take for granted. 
  • I mean, life, in a sense, for many people is too good.  You know, so the taxes go up a little bit, so you have more regulation, so businessmen are condemned more; it doesn't affect the standard of living that much.  But, somebody who knows what life is outside of America values the freedom in America more than many Americans there. 
  • So, I have a huge admiration for people who struggle to come to the country and to sell and to open businesses, and I truly believe that very few of them are going for the welfare and to take advantage, you know.  Most of them go to open bakeries or to start a business, you know, the entrepreneurial spirit. 
  • They are not going to America to collect welfare checks; they are going to America to make a better life, and making a better life means working.  You know, there is nothing like to work to build self-esteem and to make a better life.  There is a question over here. 
  • QUESTION: Yes.  To explain people's conducts, especially the anticapitalist mentality, how much did Ayn Rand believe in the explanation afforded by the science of psychology, especially after her association with Nathaniel Branden? 
  • ANSWER: She believed that psychology is a consequence of the ideas one holds, certain emotions: Envy, guilt, all of those types of emotions; a consequence of ideas that we've accepted at some point in our lives. 
  • So, she would say, absolutely, the negative attitude towards capitalism has a psychological root, whether you call it envy of the rich, envy of the successful, and so on.  But, the real question is why do people have that psychology?  They are not born with it. 
  • And, she believed that the reason they have that psychology is because we are trained, we train our children from when they are very young, to... I always use this example when I talk, in businesses, I tell them: "You all tell your kids, as soon as they go into the playground, to share; everybody has to share, sharing is the most important thing." 
  • Right?  I mean, which one of you, parents, has not told your kids that they have to share their toys with a stranger?  But, I bet you that if a stranger comes knocking on your door, and asks to borrow your car, you won't share. 
  • But, we train our kids to be these "quasi-socialists," why?  Because we trained ourselves to believe that that's good, and we are not good enough to practice it with strangers, but we want our kids to be good enough. 
  • That's what she challenges.  She challenges the ideas that lie behind this psychology.  And, I don't think you can uproot the psychological problems without first addressing the philosophical problems. 
  • And, the philosophical problem is altruism, the notion that the moral ideal is the benefit of other people, that self-interest is evil, is bad, or at best, amoral, outside of morality. 
  • That is where the core is; and, if we can educate people about that, particularly when they are young, then the psychological issues will go away; and, if you reverse it, if we only focus on the psychological problems of adults, we will lose the battle because, even if you can explain all these issues to them, unless they accept that something is wrong, they won't change. 
  • So, you have to address it at the philosophical level, not at the psychological level.  Even though, if you have a good psychiatrist or psychologist and they can unwind all this mush and nonsense that is in you, that's great, but, you know, if you know a good psychologist, I have a lot of clientele... 
  • QUESTION: Congratulations for your lecture.  Incluso desde el punto de vista de la fe, la razón es la base porque la fe... no puede aceptarse nada por fe si fuera contrario a la razón.  Eso, al menos desde el punto de vista de la fe judía y de la fe cristiana; nada contra la razón. 
  • La fe supone el fundamento racional, el fundamento de la razón.  O sea, la fe es verdad que es dar un salto en el vacío, creer algo que es superior a nuestra razón, pero no contrario a nuestra razón. 
  • Si la fe, la Biblia o la religión, nos dijera que aceptemos algo que sea contrario a la razón, no debemos aceptarlo.  Eso es la doctrina tanto judía como cristiana, o sea la fe no es un absurdo.  La fe no es contra la razón, si fuera contra la razón, sería un absurdo. 
  • La fe, tanto judía como cristiana, supone los fundamentos racionales para dar ese salto en el vacío que es la fe: aceptar una verdad, o aceptar una persona, en el caso de la fe judía o fe cristiana, o sea, eso es lo que se llama los preámbulos racionales de la fe. 
  • Eso es filosofía, o sea, no hay nada en contra de que la razón sea la base de todo nuestro ser y de toda nuestra actividad.  La voluntad no puede dar el salto en el vacío que es la fe, si la razón no le da los fundamentos, por supuesto racionales, para que de ese salto, para que haga ese acto de fe. 
  • ANSWER: I believe... what I said before is what I believe.  I believe that there is a contradiction, that they are ultimately mutually exclusive.  If they weren't, then that would be great. 
  • But, I think that the bottom line, the bottom line question, for example, of the existence of God, is a question of whether you cannot validate it based on reason; and, again, we could get into a theological debate on the existence of God, but in my view, the existence of God has no basis in reason; his only basis can be established in faith. 
  • And, I know there's a whole Socratic tradition that argues against that; but, we will leave that for another time. 
  • Yaron, on behalf of the board of directors, and as a thank you note for your visit and your presentation tonight, this is a little present for you, as a memory of your presentation.  Thank you so much. 
  • Thank you. Thank you very much.
  • Opening credits
  • Recognition to Yaron Brook by Giancarlo Ibárgüen
  • Final credits
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Capitalism is usually conceived as an evil idea; the concept of self-interest is commonly considered wrong or inmoral. Contrary to this, Ayn Rand, in her book Atlas Shrugged, proposes that when we seek our own benefit we also benefit others, and therefore capitalism is a moral system.



Ayn Rand: Radical for Capitalism
Yaron Brook

Milton Friedman Auditorium
Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Guatemala, October 11th 2007

A New Media - UFM production. Guatemala, November 2007
Camera: Sergio Miranda, Mynor de León; digital editing: Adrián Méndez; index and synopsis: Richard Gándara; content and text revision: Daphne Ortiz; publication: Mario Pivaral / Carlos Petz

Imagen: cc.jpgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License
Este trabajo ha sido registrado con una licencia Creative Commons 3.0

Yaron Brook

Yaron Brook
Yaron Brook is President and Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute. He speaks at universities and corporations, promoting Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and has been invited to radio and television shows for his expertise on the Middle East, foreign policy and economy. He holds a Master and a Doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and he's former professor of Ethics and Finance in Santa Clara University. Brook is author of the book Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government.

Source: www.aynrand.org
Last update: 02/09/2013

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