Talking Brook: 'Yaron Brook Show: Andrew Klavan on Ayn Rand'
Is Kavlan right about Ayn Rand and her work?
Dr. Brook breezes by the impeachment mess like an eagle passing through the sky. He discusses the responses that he received after broadcasting a show that mainly concerned opera. He’s glad that people enjoyed the show but is a bit dismayed. He says that listeners and viewers took a less than bright view of women over the years and how capitalism has, more than anything else, helped to liberate them. He then springs forward into the show with the topic of the day: Andrew Klavan.
The one thing that Klavan gets right, according to the good doctor, is the fact that Klavan separates Objectivism from conventional conservatism. Dr. Brook encourages his audience to watch the interview that he engaged in with Ben Shapiro. This interview sparked the diatribe by Kavlan in the first place. Kavlan condescends against Ayn Rand’s works, especially The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). He claims that these monumental works are “boring” and “too long.” But how does he know this by skimming fictional works. It’s easier to understand skipping a few passages in a nonfiction piece, but it is almost impossible to get the full thrust of the nature of the work that the writer intended by passing over invented passages.
Dr. Brook holds that Ayn Rand wrote not naturally, but realistically, with a romantic infusion. If Kavlan finds Miss Rand’s work to be jarring, it is because the prose is written so beautifully. The construction of her characters’ inner lives, the sweeping scenes, the description of the flow of time all paint portraits of grandeur. Dr. Brook talks about a lunch that he enjoyed with a man from Trinidad and Tobago. He says that the man, even though he has not read most of Miss Rand’s works, could superbly articulate the power and gorgeousness of her words. It’s veneration like this that Ayn Rand’s works deserve, according to Dr. Brook. Kavlan then points out how George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) is similar to Ayn Rand. Dr. Brook shoots down this comparison. He allows that the book is dystopian like Anthem (1938) and presents a bleak picture of humanity in a post-apocalyptic world and attacks the left. But Dr. Brook reminds his audience that Orwell was a lefty to begin with so the criticism falls flat. Additionally, Dr. Brook says 1984 provides no positive solutions while a novel like Atlas certainly offers a shimmering view of the best in humanity. He recommends that everyone read Atlas.
In all of this, Dr. Brook sigh becomes apparent in the broadcast. Kavlan mentions The Law (1850) by Frédéric Bastiat. He says that Miss Rand cribbed her work from other authors. Dr. Brook challenges Kavlan to think philosophically. Dr. Brook says that Kavlan is “superficial, silly, and childish.” No, Miss Rand was not an economist and she learned from Hazlitt and von Mises, among others. But the strength of her writing is in inventing scenarios like the “Money Speech” in Atlas that is of her own excellent, original making. Dr. Brook points out that no one in history has talked about the producer and making money as Miss Rand does in her work.
What becomes apparent as sunlight breaking through the clouds is the fact that neither the left nor the right have an affinity towards Objectivism. And the comprehension of capitalism is abhorrent on both sides. Capitalism, to Dr. Brook, creates an environment where we are free to solve problems. Within all of this, happiness is the key ingredient. Capitalism came about before Objectivism and it was inconsistent and flawed. With a return to Kavlan’s—not idiocy, but dishonesty—he perpetuates distortions of the elements of The Fountainhead. Kavlan feels that the hero Howard Roark is a murderous psychopath who blows up orphanages. Dr. Brook encourages Kavlan to “go read.” He says that to underline the question of what orphanages received demolition at the hands of Howard Roark in the novel? Kavlan then says that in The Fountainhead, profits are put above values. Dr. Brook emphatically proclaims that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. He says that profit and honesty and integrity can be put alongside each other and integrated. What Kavlan is after is short term profit vs long term profit. If Kavlan had said that Objectivism is wrong, and that he “stands with Jesus... fine!” says Dr. Brook. He would much rather have a truthful opponent rather than one who indulges in fallacies. A question of whether Ayn Rand represented corrupt businessmen who produced shoddy or even dangerous products arises on the show. Dr. Brook asks whether that was Ayn Rand’s intent, implying that she showed captains of industry like Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden in Atlas to illustrate the wonder of productive people. Dr. Brook says that according to Kavlan, these characters are “cardboard” and the books are “boring” because they don’t present Jesus suffering on the cross in the worst way possible.
Ayn Rand’s view of man as a heroic and magnificent creature who can achieve his own happiness is what “pisses off conservatives” in Dr. Brook’s book. Man is incredible in his ability to perpetuate honesty, integrity, and pride. Furthermore, fundamentally, Western civilization is two ideas: the “efficacy of reason and individualism is a virtue.” The Renaissance in the visual arts saw bright colors and light. Science presented reality as opposed to the Middle Ages which concerned the distortion of reality. Here Dr. Brook is at his most passionate and clear. He offers only answers that reflect a serious and simple evaluation of the facts.
Dr. Brook contends that Ayn Rand was the woman who saved “the ideas of reason and individualism.” He goes on to say that “Objectivism is the only system that can save civilization” and that “altruism as a moral identity is enemy number one.”
During a flurry of Super Chats, Dr. Brook navigated the queries with cool. He says that money was the consequence of markets. People had been trading and it rose from specialization. There have been relatively win/win benefits of trade... unless you consider the current Presidential Administration. He follows by saying that markets work without capitalism tentatively.
After receiving a question about comparatively contemporary authors, Dr. Brook has very little knowledge of writers like Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. He admits that he has the least knowledge in literature but he knows what he loves.