Yaron Brook/ARI and "The Case for Optimism"


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I received an form email from Yaron Brook/ARI today, making a case for "optimism" to be found during the new presidential administration...

"As difficult as the last year has been, the (limited) freedom we have today has led to the richest, healthiest, most opportunity-rich world humanity has ever enjoyed. 

"And that’s our opportunity. "


You can read the full statement below.

 

Quote

 

Dear ARI Subscriber:

Throughout my career, I’ve been assured by marketing experts and PR consultants that negatives motivate people more than positives. Ayn Rand taught me a different lesson: good people are motivated primarily by positive values:

 

“You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.” (John Galt in Atlas Shrugged)


As difficult as the last year has been, the (limited) freedom we have today has led to the richest, healthiest, most opportunity-rich world humanity has ever enjoyed. 

And that’s our opportunity. 

The enemies of freedom mobilize support by painting a nightmare world headed for destruction—unless we surrender more of our wealth and freedom. 

Our success will come from pointing to the achievements of capitalism (or what remains of it) and demanding more freedom to reach even greater achievements.

For example, no achievement in 2020 was more notable than the fact that less than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, two companies developed promising vaccines. And no fact about that achievement is more notable than that it was made possible, not by government, but by free human minds. 

We must continue to oppose the negative trends that are taking away our freedom and threatening our future. But our core message has to be that life has never been better—and, with more freedom and reverence for reason, we can add many more years to our lives and much more joy to our days. 

When we think of the future, we can’t just stare myopically at the horrors in Washington. We should think of what’s in store for us if freedom can be increased and the entrepreneurs in our midst further liberated. 

We should think of the driverless cars, supersonic jets, and space travel that will revolutionize transportation and liberate our time in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of the automobile age. 

We should think of the global spread of 5G and 6G cellular technology that will allow us to be constantly connected to knowledge, art, entertainment, colleagues, and loved ones. 

We should think of the years added to our lives—years of health and vigor—due to the amazing innovations in biotech and a greater understanding of the human genome.

We should think of the romantic art that will one day see a real renaissance, and that will enrich our spirits.

And we should think of—and be advocates for—the freedom we’ll need to make these breakthroughs a reality. 

We are fighting for a glorious future—not a return to some idyllic past. And the road to the future will be built not by politicians but by those who fight for a better culture. A culture that values reason, individualism, and capitalism. A culture that values progress, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. A culture that admires producers of every type—from plumbers to scientists to CEOs to (real) artists.

To focus exclusively on politics is to step into a tribal abyss where too many minds are shut and where to criticize one side is to immediately get lumped in with the other. We, who are not part of any tribe, need to redefine the debate on our terms by outlining an aspirational agenda: an agenda built on profound and deep philosophic ideals and offering a vision of the future that goes beyond policy to an inspiring picture of human achievement and human flourishing. 

That is the real battle—and it’s the battle the Ayn Rand Institute is leading the way in fighting. With your support, we will win.

Yaron Brook

Chairman of the Board
Ayn Rand Institute

 

 

 

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My original personal assessment was negative, but I realized I was judging it subjectively through the "lens" of 2020, as well as my own dislike of Brook. I was also tempted to compare this to a "Pollyanna"-like approach at best. And forget Q, I wanted to say; the real pacifying "Russian 'Operation Trust' Psy-op" was right there in that email. His admiration for the positive accomplishments of people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg still makes me think that he's blind to their "Robert Stadler"-like aspects, and how they are working in cahoots with Communist China.  And he didnt' even touch on the election fraud and censorship that Rand called out in her time as two of the four hallmarks of a dictatorship, or how the social media giants are in bed with government to impose "backdoor censorship" while hiding under the guise of "muh private company." But as I took a second pass, he does make some calls for resistance to overbearing government by NOT putting our faith in said government, but to look to other avenues. There are some things in the abstract that I do agree with, so it does deserve a more objective read as well, I believe.  That's only fair. (Or maybe I'm being TOO fair, and dropping the context of Brook's TDS that was on display for the past four years...and ignores China's interference/"commnunist infiltration instead of invasion..."and would Brook have had the brass balls to make "a case for optimism" to Ayn Rand during the Russian Revolution, in the context of Bolshevik persecutions and propaganda from PRAVDA? Or, maybe I'm dropping context, and forgetting that this is still America, which has a different background that Russia...)

So, then: Does Brook make his case for optimism, or is this just a pacifying psy-op?

So, then, read for yourself, see what you think.
 

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1 hour ago, ThatGuy said:

So, then: Does Brook make his case for optimism, or is this just a pacifying psy-op?

TG,

Neither. False dichotomy.

It's a half-assed sales page.

Forget about politics. That's ugly.
We, the enlightened don't think about threats.
Why?
Because we are positive, unlike the negative folks.
We think about long life and making stuff.
We offer you future happiness.
So be enlightened like us.
How?
Send us your money.

PS: We want money from Trump voters and Communist China supporters, too, so I won't tell you how un-Objectivist you are if you are supporters of that stuff. After all, money has no philosophy. It's money... And we need it... So be happy... And dig deep in those pockets...

:)

Michael

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15 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

TG,

Neither. False dichotomy.

It's a half-assed sales page.

The "false dichotomy". I'm glad you picked up on my omission. I had considered writing something like "something in between", but false dichotomy works even better.

(As for the "half-assed sales page"...dang. I must have really been feeling generous, this morning...that didn't even cross my mind...sometimes I can be too cynical, other times, not enough...but then, maybe I'm just still under the impression that Brook is receiving Soros money, and doesn't need our paltry donations, so my cynicism's still working in the background, at least...phew, that was a close one...)

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2 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

A culture that admires producers of every type—from plumbers to scientists to CEOs to (real) artists.

Hmmm...has Brook ever looked at how REAL artists faired under communism and censorship? How Russian composers like Tchaikovsky fared under Stalin? They had to flee to America. But where will REAL artists flee to if American falls? Hmm...

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TG,

When I said half-assed sales letter, put the emphasis on half-assed.

Mumble mumble mumble (Objectivist talking points).
Gimmee money.

I could take the whole thing apart easily, but I don't want to spend time on it. Yaron Brook spent years trashing about 100 million producers--really good people--in this country because they supported President Trump, and now he wants to come out with Objectivist talking points in a spirit of unity as if this means something. Coming from him, he's the first person who has ever made me think the term "Objectivist bromides." He turned Rand's important insights into clichés so he can ask for money. Read the letter again through this lens and see if I am not on to something.

But just to give an example of how poor this letter is, let's look at the two opening paragraphs.

5 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

[Quoting Brook]

Throughout my career, I’ve been assured by marketing experts and PR consultants that negatives motivate people more than positives. Ayn Rand taught me a different lesson: good people are motivated primarily by positive values:
 

“You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.” (John Galt in Atlas Shrugged)

What's missing here?

How about motivated to do what?

I know the literature of marketing experts and PR consultants. I've spent long years studying them. When they say "negatives motivate people more than positives," they are not talking about a chosen code of values (morals). They are talking about the way the brain evolved. They are talking about the animal part of "rational animal." Their purpose is looking into this is to develop techniques to get people to do what they want them to do.

When Rand said: "You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness," she is not talking about coming up with the best way to sell stuff to her kind of people. She is talking about the criteria her kind of people use in choosing their code of values. She is talking about the rational part of "rational animal." 

Some people choose pain avoidance and don't do doodly-squat while others choose to achieve great things, including enduring the pain reality demands to get there.

Marketing experts and PR consultants NEVER tell you don't do anything with your life. Instead, they tell you how you can cut out the pain to achieve your dreams (just buy their stuff). And this works because people automatically, subconsciously, on a non-volitional level, avoid pain as a priority over seeking pleasure. Evolution would not have worked for humans otherwise. Our ancestors would have been easy prey had they prioritized pleasure over pain for acting. ("Man, that stung, but I'll get moving in a minute. This banana is sooooo yummy." As Rand said about the guy in the space ship when the aliens were approaching, they are heard from no more. :) )

Pain or threat of pain is a call for us to focus our minds quickly. Survival anyone? Duh... That's the reflex the marketing and PR folks exploit in coming up with their copy. They want you to pay attention before anything else. That's part of what they mean by motivation when they say negative motivates more than positive.

This has nothing to do with Rand's focus, that is, choosing a path to deepen the value of one's life, even if only to oneself.

In fact, this is why Brook's letter came off as Pollyanna to you (and me, too). Brook brushed aside obvious threats like bioweapons and nuke-armed enemies like Communist China and basically said we don't think about that. We shall overcome and be happy. How? Especially if a huge chunk of humankind gets killed by the threats? Blank-out. Threats don't count. (Well, there is one way to deal with them: send him money. :) )

An effective sales message shows how threats are eliminated, then promises the good times as a result.

It does not say (like Brook): Some people think threats are dangerous, but threats are not proper human motivation. We have happiness instead.

Talk about a false dichotomy for selling (and selling is the purpose of what PR and marketing people do).

A highly effective sales message says: Are you sick and tired of XXXX? (Often, the message twists the knife with, well, it's worse than you think. blah blah blah.) So stop suffering and buy my shit. It fixes the pain for you. (Explain how. Proof. Testimonials. etc.) Not only does it fix your problem, you can look forward to a future of happiness because my shit also comes with X, Y and Z. Don't delay. Buy it now before it runs out.

:) 

That has nothing to do with what Rand was talking about.

One would think the Chairman of the Board of the Ayn Rand Institute would know that.

Now think about what kind of person tries to fund-raise in the name of Ayn Rand off getting this wrong.

Michael

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10 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

In fact, this is why Brook's letter came off as Pollyanna to you (and me, too). Brook brushed aside obvious threats like bioweapons and nuke-armed enemies like Communist China and basically said we don't think about that. We shall overcome and be happy. How? Especially if a huge chunk of humankind gets killed by the threats? Blank-out. Threats don't count. (Well, there is one way to deal with them: send him money. :) )

It certainly had NONE of the urgency of Rand's "To All Innocent Fifth Columnists". But even Rand herself is probably too negative for Brook, as well...
 

 

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2 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

It certainly had NONE of the urgency of Rand's "To All Innocent Fifth Columnists".

TG,

Rand almost always added urgency when she talked about stakes. And she always added stakes when she wrote a call to action.

Even in her driest writing, she liked to goose up the urgency by goosing up the stakes.

Look at this sentence from the Preface to the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

Quote

If, in the light of such "solutions," the problem might appear to be esoteric, let me remind you that the fate of human societies, of knowledge, of science, of progress and of every human life, depends on it.

:)

To be a stickler, how can someone be reminded of the standing of solutions to the the problem of universals when they probably never thought about it to begin with?

:) 

It may not sound like it, but I approve of that passage. Rhetorical hyperbole keeps people awake and focused. In this passage, Rand is preparing the readers' minds to read a not-so-sexy book. If they think they are saving the world, that's a great frame to help make dry academic-like thoughts stick in memory.

Michael

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5 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

It may not sound like it, but I approve of that passage. Rhetorical hyperbole keeps people awake and focused.

Indeed. if there ever was any time when urgency was/is needed, that Fifth Column letter was certainly the right time for it, then, and it's right for the times, now!

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I unsubscribed from ARI some time ago... but if I got that in my email, I mean really...

W

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?

 

After that "performance" does Yaron expect an award?  I can see him tottering on chair-backs with a wide smile before going up to the stage to accept his award...  oh yes "Life is Beautiful"...apparently pretending is wonderful... exhortations to completely ignore the overarching political and socioeconomic upheavals in America... the dire divisions and the threats from China, the Radical Left, and Big Tech?.... well "It's the New Objectivist way!!"   (Neo-Objectivist? ...that is no Objectivist)

again

 

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5 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

I unsubscribed from ARI some time ago...

Ditto. I stopped donating several years ago but I still donate to TAS and Hillsdale College just to get their news letter. I got it today and it was depressing. 1984? I don't want to revisit that year or book.  

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