Ayn Rand Institute leader tackles morality of capitalism (3/12)

Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

The fact that Bill Gates is applauded for his work to “give back” to the world suggests that profit-making is a moral crime; but capitalism is not only moral, it is also the only moral social system, contends the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

Yaron Brook, the director, will make that case here as he speaks on “The Morality of Capitalism” on Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in Norlin Library’s British Studies Room on the University of Colorado Boulder campus.

Brook appears at the invitation of Bradley Birzer, CU-Boulder’s visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy.

Capitalism has an undisputed record of wealth generation, yet it has always functioned under a cloud of moral suspicion, Brook states.

“In a culture that venerates Mother Teresa as a paragon of virtue, businessmen sit in stoic silence while their pursuit of profits is denounced as selfish greed,” he writes, adding that society tells businessmen to sacrifice, to serve others, to “give back”—counting on their acceptance of self-interest as a moral crime, with chronic guilt its penance.

“Is it any wonder that productive giants from John D. Rockefeller to Bill Gates have behaved as if profit-making leaves a moral stain that only tireless philanthropy can launder but never fully remove?”

Yaron Brook is the coauthor of the national best-seller Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government and a contributing author to both Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea and Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

Brook immigrated to the United States, having been born and raised in Israel, and serving in its military. He has a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and taught finance Santa Clara University for seven years.

He speaks around the world on issues related to capitalism, economics and finance, as well as Ayn Rand and her philosophy.  Brook’s podcast is available every Monday, from 10 a.m. to noon at blogtalkradio.com/yaronbrook.  Find him on Twitter at @yaronbrook. This talk is free and open to the public.

C.S. Lewis and the Meaning of Myth (2/25)


C.S. Lewis and the Meaning of Myth
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Norlin Library, British Studies Room, 5th floor


Bradley J. Birzer, Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy, will attempt to look at the world as C.S. Lewis viewed it, through the eyes of a serious humanist, poet and myth-maker. BIrzer will consider Lewis’ ideas on story and his hatred of ideologies.

This talk is free and open to the public.

CS Lewis and the Meaning of Myth


Why Andy?

As you all know–after all, I’ve been bombarding this blog as well as various social networking outlets with the news for almost three weeks now–Andy Tillison will be speaking and performing this afternoon, 5:30-7, in the Old Main Chapel.

The first album by The Tangent (2003).  Art by Ed Unitsky.

The first album by The Tangent (2003). Art by Ed Unitsky.

Why Andy?  

In my time here (and what a glorious time I’ve had–thank you, CU and Colorado!!!), I’ve tried to bring in a real diversity of speakers.  Last semester, CU CTP speakers lectured mostly about the liberal arts, philosophy, and education.  In January, I had famed science-fiction master, Kevin J. Anderson and his lovely wife, Rebecca, to talk about writing, selling, and persevering.  In March, we’ll hear from an economist and a philosopher.

For February, then, I wanted to bring in a musician, an artistic, and a cultural critic.  Andy Tillison is all three–in spades.

Specifically, he is an English rock and jazz musician, a genius when it comes to the word as well as to the music, a far-more-than-proficient pianist, organist, and keyboardist.  I’ve been listening intently to Tillison’s music for exactly a dozen years.  To say that his art changed my life would not be too much of an exaggeration.  When I listen to his music, I feel the inspiration of the muses and the spheres, and I find that his soul, mind, and heart inspire the equivalent in me.  Whether I’m worthy of such inspiration is another matter. . . but, when I found out I would be holding this position this year, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted Tillison to be a part of it.  He and his lovely equal, Sally Collyer, readily and graciously agreed to leave their northern English home for a week to help us here in Colorado.  What a gift for all of us.

They arrived last Saturday, and after spending a wonderful weekend with them, they took off to explore of the Wyoming and Colorado rockies.  Not surprisingly, they embraced every moment, every scene, and every encounter with the verve that appears in every word and every note of Andy’s music.

At 5:30, when I introduce Tillison to a CU audience, I will be introducing a man who is a hero to me.  A man of immense talent, but, even more importantly, a man of immense integrity.  I will be privileged to introduce a genius.

I hope you will join us in a celebration of all that is good, true, and beautiful in this post-modern world.

Brad Beck

I was thrilled to see that my friend, Brad Beck, has been awarded the “Leader in Action Award” for 2015 by the Leadership Program of the Rockies.  From the moment I first met Brad last fall, he has been nothing but welcoming, supportive, and enthusiastic about the Birzers being in Colorado.  Brad, to my mind, represents the very best of what a republic has to offer.  He is a citizen to the nth degree, and we all benefit from his generous heart and perspective mind.

Congratulations, Brad.  Well deserved!


Our 2015 Leader in Action Award goes to an individual who well understands what it means to empower individuals to keep freedom’s momentum on track.

Brad Beck is a graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies class of 2009 and was a Defenders of Capitalism™ finalist. At the 2009 Annual Retreat, Brad took seriously Congressman Bob Schaffer’s challenge to take action. Brad set into motion a plan to create a new Toastmasters International chapter that would focus on developing the skills needed to articulate the principles espoused by LPR.

Brad Beck is the embodiment of an LPR “leader in action” not simply for his vision and his hard work, but for his ability to capitalize on and further develop the LPR network. He has mentored and empowered dozens of people to be more effective stewards of freedom.

Brad Beck is, indeed, LPR’s idea of a leader in action.  He will receive the Leader in Action award on Saturday at the Retreat lunch. –Leadership Program of the Rockies, February 18, 2015

Russell Kirk on Malcolm X

To celebrate Black History Month, I thought it would be interesting to re-post Russell Kirk’s assessment of Malcolm X.  Enjoy.

One of the greatest and most interesting Americans of the 20th Century, Malcolm X.

One of the greatest and most interesting Americans of the 20th Century, Malcolm X.

SOURCE: Russell Kirk, “To the Point,” Helena Montana Independent Record, March 3, 1965.

On Irving Kupcinet’s Chicago television program, Malcolm X and this commentator participated in a  discussion of public affairs, a few months ago.  Now Malcolm X–or Malcolm Little, as he was born–has been murdered before hundreds of people.  Revolutions do, indeed, devour their own children.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found Malcolm X to be a man of considerable intellectual powers, certainly no conventional demagogue, dignified, and rather winning in manner.  He was a strange being, but no fool or madman.  He had then just returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, capping his formal conversion to the Mohammedan faith.

He rose out of violence and crime in the urban jungles, and he died by violence and crime.  Yet the convicted burglar who made himself a minor power in the land did not appear to be a natural fanatic or incendiary.

In part, his talk of violence was a means of ensuring the continued support of his followers, in a time when the man who rise the tire dare not dismount.  He was unquestionably courageous; and, having taken the sword, he was prepared to perish by the sword.

Inconsistent and erratic though many of his remarks were in recent months, Malcolm X may have been working his way toward some program less crazy than that of the Black Muslims he left–and who seem to have wreaked their vengeance upon him.  He despised the sentimental American liberal of the sort that patronizes the Negro, and his first principle was that the Negro must work out his own improvement.

In time, his talents for leadership, and the fact that his very notoriety compelled him to think about what he said, might have converted him gradually from fanatic utterance to reasonable courses.  The man had more in him than simple hatred.

Had Malcolm X been born in the modern black Africa with which he proposed American Negro solidarity, in this time of troubles he might have gone straight to the top; for he had the intelligence and the zeal and the self-confidence which give men power in revolutionary eras.  He might then have risen to the dignity of president or premier; but then, too, he might have died at the hands of assassins, as still more African politicians will die before this year is out.

In America, he was a freak; in ‘emergent’ Africa, he would haver been a statesman.  In Africa, after all, ‘separation’ of the races is a possibility; but the separate Negro commonwealth in which Malcolm X professed to believe never could be realized in America.

Our Chicago meeting was not acrimonious, and I should have liked to talk to Malcolm X longer, to ascertain if truly there was forever a great gulf fixed between us.  But that unquiet spirit will not be heard again.