A little over 50 years ago James Burnham authored a book titled “Suicide of the West”. It was his thesis that the West had lost faith in its institutions and culture. As a result, the West, especially its intellectuals and culture shapers (with certain notable exceptions) were no longer willing to defend Western civilization and its culture. More than that, Wester civilization became the enemy. Well, here we are again.
Fortunately, the stupidity of that era didn’t last for long. But it didn’t disappear entirely, it merely went into hiding. Now it has come back with a vengeance.
Douglas Murray, author of several books including the recently published “Madness of Crowds” sat down with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution to discuss the current state of affairs, particularly the intellectual, political and cultural environments in which we now reside. It’s a long interview, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s worth every minute. Please see the video of the interview below.
One of the problems we face in the public square is that “argument” consists largely of assertions without regard to facts, evidence, or logic. It is commonly assumed, for instance, that differences in outcomes result from unequal treatment, and that were it not for unequal treatment differentiation in outcomes would be essentially non-existent. Things like taste, interest, ability, discipline, industriousness and even biology are mere social constructs that reflect the preferences of an oppressive class hierarchy.
There is a further underlying assumption that were it not for this oppressive class system, otherwise known as capitalism, poverty could be eliminated and the wants and needs of people could be fulfilled. (Note: material poverty has been largely eliminated in the West by…capitalism).
The common thread in all this is the assumption that wealth and income derive from external resources rather than from the development of human capital; that wealth should be distributed rather than created and earned. Most importantly, it assumes that wealth is the default position of mankind.
It isn’t. The default position of mankind is existence under conditions of poverty and scarcity. The reason why the West lives in abundance is because over the centuries it has created institutions that protect property rights, individual agency and the rule of law, all of which are necessary preconditions for liberal market capitalism.
Dr. Thomas Sowell, a pre-eminent economist with the Hoover Institution, discusses wealth, poverty and politics in a wide ranging interview with Peter Robinson in the video below.
Peter Theil, a famously successful technology investor, is the founder of PayPal and the first outsider to take a stake of Facebook. He eventually sold PayPal in 2002 to eBay for $1.5 Billion and later sold his 10.2% stake in Facebook for over $1 Billion. Thiel, an outspoken libertarian, earned his undergraduate degree in in Philosophy at Stanford University and followed that up with a Law degree from Stanford Law School.
After practicing law for a short time he worked as a speechwriter for U.S. Education Secretary William Bennet, then went on the become a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse. Eventually he moved to Silicon Valley and became a famously successful technology investor. He is still a technology investor and teaches as an adjunct at Stanford University.
In September of 2019 he was interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. The wide ranging discussion was sparked by an essay Thiel published titled “The Straussian Moment”.
It is a fascinating discussion and well worth watching. It can be seen below.
In the video below Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution interviews Senator Ben Sasse (R,NE) about his latest book, entitled “The Vanishing American Adult”. In 2016 Sasse announced that he would not support Donald Trump for President if he won the Republican nomination. Well, Trump won the nomination and Sasse refused to support him. As Wikipedia puts it, Sasse “questioned Trump’s commitment to the U.S. Constitution, in particular accusing him of attacking the First Amendment; stated that Trump had refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan; and suggested that Trump “thinks he’s running for King”. “
Sasse has remained one of Trump’s harshest critics. Although Sasse’s detractors complain that he votes with Trump most of the time, it is clear (or ought to be) that Sasse understands that the supporting good policy should not be sacrificed for the sake of personal pique.
In the 2016 Presidential election I wrote in the name of Ben Sasse. Unfortunately, he fell about 65 million votes short. Undaunted, I will vote for him again in 2020. If you watch the interview below, it will be clear why I did and will do so again. Maybe you will too.
Kim Strassel, an unapologetic defender of capitalism, is a Princeton educated author and journalist who writes for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. In the video below she is interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. It is certainly worth watching.
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University. He is also a PhD economist and research associate at at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. In the video below he is interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution at Stanford.