Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cultural Magnifying Glass

Yaron Brook is making the rounds across the country giving lectures on issues related to the Middle East and the Bush administration's complete failure to wage a proper war in self-defense. Past lectures include: The Morality of War, Neoconservatives vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy Since 9/11, and Democracy vs. Victory: Why The "Forward Strategy of Freedom" Had to Fail". This last one has become the basis of an essay by Yaron Brook & Elan Journo, as I linked to in my last post.

Related to this, via an Ayn Rand Institute Press Release:

The essay draws on a lecture presented by Dr. Brook at the Ford Hall Forum in Boston on October 22, 2006; an audio recording of that event is available as an MP3 download or streaming audio from WGBH Boston. [Links added]
Though I've heard Dr. Brook present the material in past lectures, I enjoy listening to him discuss the issue because it is so a radical alternative to the self-sacrificial doublespeak and evasion you hear in the news. For those of you not swayed by such an incentive, I offer that you can always listen to the Q&A that follows the lecture. Sometimes these periods, in general, offer interesting perspectives on issues brought up in the lecture and they're always well worth the response by the presenter. They allow for further elucidation and clarity, especially on complex philosophical premises such as: how is morality justified?, by what standard is sovereignty granted?, or are citizens of an enemy nation truly innocent?

While this Q&A was no exception, I found myself a little aggravated, not at Dr. Brook's answers but at the many disrespectful questioners present. I should preface this by mentioning that the lecture was forcibly interrupted, not once but twice, by protesters who were singing (what it was I do not know, it was inaudible).

Oddly enough, there was a presentation five months prior to Dr. Brook's at the Forum entitled, "Singing for Justice", supposedly looking at the impact of protest singing since the Kennedy administration. You can infer what kind of "justice" they were talking about.

What stood out about these questions, I would argue, was the acceptance of their validity in contrast to the Q&A periods given by Ayn Rand herself. Rand made it explicitly clear that she would not give moral sanction to such irrationality. Most of the "questions" asked of Dr. Brook's were of such a vile nature I was surprised he even took the time to answer what semblance of English they uttered. In contrast, Rand would refuse to recognize any person who explicitly or implicitly smeared, defamed, or bashed her. This is not to say that she was some raving dictator. In the context of a Q&A it is the responsibility of a questioner to form a legitimate question to ask of the speaker not a lengthy diatribe.

To extrapolate this event onto a cultural level in contrast with only one other person's experience would be irresponsible on my part. Although I can't but help think it to be a sign of our cultural decay due to anti-conceptuality. If our culture is progressively refusing to identify man's nature and accept that reason is his means of survival, it is the mind that will be destroyed as a result. Instead of a method of conceptualization it will be the anti-conceptual that will be advocated and every attack on reason stems from such irrationality. The attacks on Dr. Brook by such protesters demonstrates their refusal to even listen to what he had to say in his lecture and were simply attempts to get cheap attention. To Brook, I would say he was too lenient to such people. They deserve nothing but contempt.

But it is to the credit of Dr. Brook, when asked if he will voluntarily stop giving lectures because of their supposed impact on the Bush administration's failed policy (if only he could have such an impact), he responded noting that it was the Ayn Rand Institute who advocated attacking Iran from day one and by further saying, "I don't intend to stop and will never stop [speaking]" Let's all hope this is so.