The following is a conversation with Michael Mallis and Yaron Brook, Michael’s third time
on this podcast and Yaron’s second, but together for the first time.
Michael is an anarchist, political thinker, host of a podcast called You’re Welcome and
author of Dear Reader, The New Right and two upcoming books Anarchist Handbook and The
Yaron is an objectivist philosopher, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, host of The Yaron
Brook Show and coauthor of The Free Market Revolution and Equal is Unfair.
Quick mention of our sponsors, Ground News, Public Goods, Athletic Greens, Brave and Four
Check them out in the description to support this podcast.
As a side note, let me say that this conversation is a kind of experiment.
Both Michael and Yaron are thoughtful and passionate, united in part by an interest
in the history and philosophy of Ayn Rand, but they are also very different in style.
Good conversation, like good food, is often made delicious by pairing of contrasting elements.
For example, someone suggested I try a peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich, which apparently
is very good.
Among the three of us, I don’t know who’s the peanut butter, who’s the bacon and who’s
the banana, I’m guessing it’s probably me, I’m the banana, but I hope the final result,
the final dish, if you will, is equally delicious.
We talk through, I think, a lot of interesting ideas, sometimes disagreeing, sometimes even
in rare cases saying something humorous, including dark humor, especially in Michael’s case.
All three of us are sensitive to the suffering in the world today and throughout human history.
We think about it, we talk about it, and we deal with it in different ways.
Be patient with us.
Whether you agree, disagree, enjoy or dislike the result, I hope you feel listened, you’re
a wiser person on the other end of it, I know I was.
Mostly, I really enjoyed this conversation because no matter what Michael and Yaron believe,
underneath it all, they’re genuine, kind human beings that I’m lucky to be able to
hang out with and learn from.
This is the Lex Friedman Podcast and here’s my conversation with Michael Malus and Yaron
I’ve been a huge fan of the two of you for the longest time.
Are we recording now?
Is it starting?
Or are you just talking?
I’m not recording at all.
He’s not going to compliment us if it’s not part of the show.
Yes, he does, all the time.
He speaks very highly of me.
You, I don’t know.
I’m not sure.
He only does this to me on the show.
Objectivists don’t like charity, so don’t compliment him, he won’t think it’s sincere.
So it’s an incredible honor that the both of you would show up here.
If we, let me just ask this sort of profound philosophical question.
How well do you think we would get along if we were stuck on a desert island together?
What would life be like?
I thought the original question you had, that you sent us this question, was how long would
it take for us to murder one another or something like that.
There was murder in the question, if I remember.
I, I, listen, he sent us homework, right?
All these questions.
I ignored it.
I didn’t spend four years at Patrick Henry University to do homework.
To answer your question, I think it would be very easy for us to live together in a
desert island in terms of interpersonal.
I know, and I say this because I know a lot of people who have been the show’s survivor.
So they, and I know a little bit about the dynamics.
So when you have people who are intelligent, who are going to have the same goals, I mean,
there’s space to go away if I’m annoyed at you, I don’t think it would be that hard at
What’s our goals on a desert island?
Survival and getting out of there, right?
You don’t want to stay on the desert island.
So yeah, I don’t, I don’t think, I think that’s true of any three, you know, semi rational
people who, you know, who basically share the goal that they want to survive.
They want to thrive.
They want to get off of the island.
Why would there be conflict?
I mean, there would be conflict, but, and there can be conflict, but they’d find ways
to deal with it.
I don’t have this negative view of human beings, particularly not as individuals.
It’s when they get into mobs and groups and collectives that ideology can really motivate
them to do horrible things.
One of the things that really drives me crazy is how sinister an impact the book Lord of
the Flies has had on our culture.
I read it in high school.
It’s a superb book.
That’s not even a question, but it’s not accurate.
We see in many situations where people are trapped together under difficult circumstances.
Obviously that book’s about children that very quickly it is not about conflict.
It very quickly becomes about cooperation.
Let’s work together.
We all have the same goal.
This is not a time to worry about other things.
It really, the human beings, the animal instinct that kicks in is the social animal and I’m
going to shut up and go over there and have a, like stomp my feet instead of arguing with
your own because we’re really trapped in the situation and we need to make it work.
Well, and to the extent that they’re bad people, bad people are dealt with, right?
So this is true of all of, you know, how did we survive as a species, right?
How have we survived as a species?
We’ve been on a desert island in a sense as a species forever.
They survived by cooperation.
They survived by dealing with bad people.
Civilization is created by people cooperating and working together and allowing individuals
to thrive within the group and when bad people arise, they deal with them, right?
Now sometimes these groups get captured by bad people and bad ideas and probably from
day one that was going on, right?
The whole tribe is probably a bad idea to begin with, but you know, underneath it all,
the fact is that to survive as a species, we need to think, we need to be rational and
if we don’t have any respect for reason, then we would all die.
We would die off.
So that’s a hopeful message, but where does that go wrong?
So with three people we might get along, we would focus on the basics of life, we have
Once women are introduced, their incessant irrationalism and less of their hormones for
Look, three of us on a desert island would be nice, but without women, it wouldn’t be
I’m going to edit out half the things Michael said through this broadcast.
As you know, I used to run the Ayn Rand Institute.
She was a woman last time I looked.
Oh, wait a minute.
You know, you know exactly what I’m going to say.
When Ludwig von Mises or Hazlitt, I don’t know who it was, Mises was praising Ayn Rand
and I think it was Hazlitt who said it to her.
He said, Ludwig von Mises said, you’re the smartest man I’ve ever met.
And Ayn Rand said, did he say man?
No, she viewed as a compliment.
But she wanted to be clear that he said man.
She was excited.
I took it as her perceiving him as seeing her as a full equal.
Oh, I think that’s right.
I think that’s right.
Plus, I think the perception out there, the perception in the culture of man as being
rational was a compliment to her because that was affirming that he viewed her as a rational.
Yeah, because Mises is old school.
He’s an older Eastern European guy, so he would definitely have these rigid views.
Like his wife, I read her autobiography, Margit von Mises, and basically he made her his secretary
to the point where if he’s typing something or he had something handwritten, she had to
type it out.
And if she made a typo, he would tear up the page, she had to start from the beginning.
But it’s like, this is the role of the man, this is the role of the woman.
So for him to regard her, this was kind of a breaking through moment.
Not that she was secretly misogynist.
So I think we go wrong when people try to understand the world around them and come
up with wrong ideas.
And it’s natural that they would come up with wrong ideas because it’s hard to figure out
So we start with trying to come up with mystical explanations for the existence of the things
And that I think very quickly leads to some people being able to communicate with the
mystical stuff out there and some people not being able to communicate and some people
wanting to control other people and using those pseudo explanations as a way to control.
So you always have, Rand called it Attila and the witch doctor.
You always have a witch doctor, the mystic, the philosopher, the intellectual, the philosopher
king, and you have an Attila, you have somebody who wants control of the people, who’s willing
to use force to control other people.
And when those two get together, that’s when things go bad.
And unfortunately, 95, 98% of human history is when those two are together.
And so the not having them together, having the right ideas, and the right ideas are ones
that are not exclusive to those guys and where we don’t allow Attila to have that kind of
physical power over us, that’s an exception and that’s rare and that’s what needs to be
Stalin’s not personally killing people.
Hitler’s not personally killing people.
Charles Manson’s not personally killing people.
They need their goons.
They need their goons, but also they don’t have original ideas.
Everything Stalin says is original to him, right?
He needs a Marx, even Lenin, right?
They all need a Marx, right?
And Marx needs a particular line of thinkers that come before him that set him up for these
kind of ideas.
So Stalin both needs his goons, even though he’s somewhat of a goon, particularly Stalin.
Yeah, he’s a bank robber, yeah.
And then, so take Lenin, Lenin I think is a better example because Lenin’s more intellectual
if you will.
Lenin needs his goons, he needs his Stalins, but Lenin also needs his Marx.
And we don’t want to let Marx off the hook because Marx knows, I think, implicitly that
his ideas have to lead to Lenin and Stalin.
His ideas are not neutral.
I don’t think it’s implicit at all.
I think Marx very much glorified revolution, blood and terror, this is not implicit in
I mean, there are letters between him and Engels where they talk about which peoples
will have to be eliminated because they don’t have that proletarian thing, right?
So I think certain peoples in Southern Europe are not appropriate for the utopia to come
and will have to be gone.
And Marx also had this concept which we still see today in garbled ways of polylogism, which
is if you’re a capitalist and I’m bourgeois or I’m a worker, your logic is different than
It’s really going to be impossible for us to communicate.
And at a certain point, you’re going to have to be liquidated.
And they pretend that doesn’t mean murdered, but it means murdered.
And very quickly, everyone becomes a capitalist or bourgeois.
And then you have the Holodomor and things like this.
No, he knows exactly where it’s going to lead.
And this is why people say, oh, Marx is not evil.
He just wrote books.
No, it’s the people who write books who are responsible for the way history evolves.
And they know the bad guys certainly know the consequence of their ideas, and they need
to bear the moral responsibility for what happens when the ideas are implemented.
Here’s a way.
Can I ask a question?
Because I think I know more about Rand than Yaron does.
So let’s see.
The gauntlet has been thrown down.
Who did Ayn Rand say is the most evil man who ever lived?
No, that I know.
I mean, it’s a big deal that Immanuel Kant is.
And most people don’t understand why, because if you read Kant, there’s certain passages
in Kant that sound pretty liberal, they sound pretty, it sounds like he’s for the individual,
he sounds like he’s for the American Revolution, things like that.
But when you actually read his philosophy and what he’s trying to defend and what he’s
trying to undermine, he’s trying to undermine the foundations that make the revolution possible,
that make freedom and individualism possible.
He’s trying to destroy the Enlightenment.
And the Enlightenment are those ideas that make freedom, individualism feasible.
He’s trying to undermine reason.
And without reason, we’re nothing.
We can’t survive as a species.
And that’s why she thought he was the most evil person, because his ideas undermine the
very foundations of what it requires to be a human being, reason and individualism.
Those are the things he’s trying to eviscerate.
I know you’ve talked about Hoffman before.
So Hoffman is a modern day attempt to, Donald Hoffman, Donald Hoffman is the University
of California, Irvine, a neurologist, a neuroscientist, something like that.
So I met him once and we were at one of these conferences where you do a quick intro, you
sit and you do a quick intro.
His introduction was, I’ve just written a book that proves that evolution has conditioned
us not to see reality.
That is very Kantian.
And he is basically just presenting pseudoscience to defend Kant’s position about epistemology
and about metaphysics.
And there’s nothing original there.
And he puts up a bunch of equations and he says, I ran a simulation and it proves I’m
So Yaron is a little bit frustrated with Donald Hoffman’s work.
I’m not frustrated.
I just think it’s completely wrong and it’s anti life, anti mind, anti evolution.
I think he’s an anti evolutionist at the end.
And I think it, you know, anytime you say, look, here’s the important point.
Anytime you say reality doesn’t exist, well, who are you?
What do you mean by reality?
What do any of your words mean?
What does anything you say even mean if it doesn’t refer to something that’s actually
out there in reality?
I try to defend this point of view because in a certain kind of sense, I hear it as being
humble in the face of the uncertainty that’s around us.
Sort of, you know, when you speak with the confidence of Ayn Rand and yourself, that
reason can be like this weapon that cuts through all the bullshit of the world and makes us
like have an ethical moral life and all those kinds of things.
You kind of assume that reason is a superpower that has no limits.
Wait, hold on, hold on a second.
But I got this one.
See this is already leading to a murder by words and we’ve been only talking for 20 minutes.
The three of us wouldn’t get together, we wouldn’t get along together on an island.
We’ll just make him our slave.
We’re all going to get along.
He’s just going to do the work.
But I’m afraid I cannot provide any value as a slave, so this is not going to end well
We could provide value as dinner.
That’s the problem I’m trying to get to.
That’s a solution.
But Donald Hoffman says that there is like he makes an argument that exactly as you said,
that what we perceive is not, is very, very far from actual physical reality.
In fact, we’re not able to perceive the physical reality at all.
And he also makes the bigger claim that evolution prefers beings who are not attached to reality.
So like evolution created creatures that are basically functioning way outside of what
the physical reality is.
I got this.
Because there’s a lot to unpack here and I hate all of it.
First of all, no, no, I’m serious.
First of all, when you were making that comment about how, you know, reason is a superpower
beyond limit, you’re being ironic, but it’s true.
And I’ll give you one example, which is astronomy.
If you look at the physical size of the universe, it’s literally in one sense incomprehensible.
So he’s right in the sense that I do not understand and none of us understand what it means for
93 million miles away for the sun to be.
It makes no, it’s a number on another screen, right?
That said, the fact that my mind, and I’m not one of the great thinkers of all time
is getting there, is capable of appreciating what the sun means, what heliocentrism means.
The fact that we can, you know, you’re a math person that you could look at galaxies and
reduce it to 10 to the 64th power in terms of distance that shows the unlimited capacity
of the human mind and reason.
Number two is if he says that evolution favors those who are not in touch with reality, and
I don’t know in what context he’s saying that because that sentence could mean a lot of
Evolution is what guides, reality is what guides evolution.
Evolution works because you are fitted to the reality of the situation around you.
It’s not that someone is sitting down and says, well, I’m going to add a fin to this
animal and that fin helps it swim.
I engineered a check mark.
It’s that mutations occur.
The vast majority of these mutations are against reality.
They do not further this animal’s life or this plant’s life or this fungus’s life, but
the ones that are in touch with reality, such as, okay, it’s really cold here.
There’s no predators here.
If I could figure out, and I’m using that term very loosely, a way where I could survive
in the cold, I don’t have predation.
It’s really great.
The fact that unconsciously and mindlessly this process can force the mutation and evolution
of the form precisely means that they’re in touch with reality.
Now, if he means the consciousness is not in touch with reality, that’s another thing
that I really hate.
You’re referring to the reality as like the biological reality of evolution, but all of
that is based on many other layers of abstraction that ultimately has quantum mechanics underneath
it all, and he’s saying somewhere along the layers, you start to lose more and more and
more attachment to the actual.
Can I add one more sentence?
I do not, I despise the idea, I say despise, I’m not using this, I’m not joking, the idea
that the reality we don’t live in is somehow more real than this.
That is a very dangerous idea to say, well, quantum works in this way, and I’m sure he’s
correct and none of us disagree with that.
What we perceive, macro, works in a different way, well, that’s the real reality and this
This is the real reality.
That is a different type, a subset, but no one’s living there, and humanity is the starting
It’s a subset that has to integrate with this world.
There isn’t two worlds, one in the quantum world and one here.
Now, we might not have the scientific knowledge to know how they’re integrated, but so what?
We know that there’s only one reality and that’s this one.
He has this difference.
He says, evolution matches up to fitness, not to reality, and he creates this dichotomy
between fitness and reality, but that’s complete nonsense.
There is no such thing as a concept of fitness outside of fitness to what?
Fitness and reality are the same thing.
They’re not separate things.
The whole way he sets this up intellectually is wrong, I think to some extent dishonest,
and certainly philosophically corrupt.
Again, he’s accepted Kant’s ideas, and everybody pretty much has accepted Kant’s ideas for
the last 200 years, and they give it a different facade.
He’s giving it an evolutionary facade, but it’s just a facade for the same idea, and
that is that somehow because we have eyes, we cannot see, because the light waves are
going through a medium, and that medium necessarily distorted.
The medium changes the resolution at which you see.
If I take off my glasses, I’m seeing it a little differently.
The thing is still there, and the thing is still there in the way I see it, because I’m
grasping the handle and lifting the cup.
That’s not an illusion.
That is a real cup.
So do you think some things are more real than others?
For example, money.
There’s a bunch of things that seem real.
This is not an Animal Farm reference.
Is this going to be about love?
There’s nothing as real as love, right Lex?
Love is a fundamental part of the quantum mechanics, yes.
There are some things that have become reality because we humans, in a collective sense,
You can’t believe something collectively.
Now it doesn’t become real.
What does it mean to say something’s real?
That is, you can, so love, for example, love’s a good example, right?
Love is an abstraction, right?
It’s not something I can touch.
It’s not something I can see, but it’s certainly something you would feel.
Not something you can hit.
We love differently.
You and I.
I don’t think that’s true.
I think I’m just too honest about it.
You can’t hit love.
You can’t, love is an abstraction.
So is love real?
Yes, it’s real because I feel it.
It’s an existent, but it’s not an existent in the same sense as this cup is.
So abstractions are real, but at the end of the day, all abstractions have to be able
to be reduced to actual concrete so you can either see it.
I really don’t like criticizing someone whose work I haven’t read secondhand.
So I want to take this away from speaking about him personally, because I’m not familiar
with his work.
He is a nice guy.
That makes me like him.
That makes him like him less.
Now you’re back talking about evolutionary fitness again.
I think there’s disingenuousness when we talk about the word real in terms of ideas are
real versus the cup is real, and you try to switch back between those two meanings, and
it’s a little bit of linguistic wordplay that is trying to force a point that’s not accurate,
in my opinion.
Well, I think the issue is, and what he’s challenging is, and what Kant is challenging
is, do we know reality?
And I think the answer is yes, we do.
We know reality.
We observe it.
Now, do we know everything about reality?
We can’t, for example, sense what a bat senses as reality.
A bat observes reality through, what is it?
Sound waves, right?
So it has a different sense, but it’s the same reality.
It’s still a table.
The bat’s spatial relationship to the table is different than ours, but the object is
still the same object.
But how do you know that’s true?
Are you not just hoping that’s true or assuming that’s true?
That’s what no means.
No means I have identified an aspect of reality.
That’s literally the definition of knowledge.
Now if you say, how are you certain?
Well, that’s a whole other question, but one of the reasons I know it was certain is because
And I know this is going to happen.
And if I tell you, if you go downstairs, you’re going to see, you know, Mr. Jones and you
walk downstairs and I see Mr. Jones, at the very least, you know, something’s going on
So what about all the things that mess with our perception?
For example, we’ve talked about psychedelics before.
Talked about in dreams where you’d be detached from this, I mean, there’s certain things
that happen to your brain to where you’re not able to perceive.
So you’re not perceiving reality.
So your brain is creating a different reality.
It’s not real.
How do you know it’s not real?
How do you know the elves will meet in the…
Because partially because I need to take a drug in order to do it, because I’m asleep
when I’m dreaming.
It’s not reality.
That is clearly a creation of our mind.
It’s not a creed.
Let’s get to the psychedelics.
The drug is real.
I think you’re going to be thinking I’m joking a lot more than I am this episode.
I’m going to be the humorist objectivist.
He could be the court jester.
In terms of psychedelic, when people are perceiving these elves, these machine elves, these other
entities, whether they could either be real or not, I don’t know.
But the point is that doesn’t go to his broader point because if these beings exist and the
only way to perceive them is to take a drug, they still exist.
This is just…
For example, if I’m walking outside in the woods at night and there’s a deer and I can’t
see it, but if I put on night vision goggles, I can see it.
That deer was there the entire time.
It’s not that the night vision goggles caused the deer to appear.
You can recreate it not only using night vision goggles, but you can then use sonar.
You can use other mechanisms by which to prove that the deer is there.
The thing with psychedelics is that…I don’t know because maybe I’m the least experienced
with psychedelics here probably.
My guess is every time you take the psychedelic, you have exactly the same experience of the
Second, are there other mechanisms, other scientific mechanisms by which I can find
the deer out there other than the psychedelics?
We don’t know yet.
Well, we don’t know yet.
Well, but the…
This is Occam’s Razor, right?
The simplest explanation here is the most likely, and that is that you’ve taken something
that’s messing with the chemicals in the brain, something is being…that your brain can project.
Nobody’s arguing that the dream is real and reality is not, or if they are, I think they’re
The dream is a dream.
Your brain is creating an image of telling you a story.
Psychedelics are simulating the same thing.
That’s probably what’s going on until there’s evidence to the contrary.
Well, hold on.
Let me disagree with you a little bit, because let’s take Adderall, for example.
No one here disagrees.
That’s something much more simpler and less out of this world.
I think what he might be speaking to, I know Joe Rogan talks about this and other people
in this space, is that when you take certain drugs, it changes your perception.
It doesn’t have to be otherworldly, it changes your perception of what’s around you.
And as an example, what they talk about is, the three of us are talking, there’s lots
of other stuff in the room, we’re only aware of it vaguely on a personal level.
So it changes the…
Hold on, let me finish.
No, I don’t do that.
You’re about to start.
This is back to the desert island of murder.
No, but we just resolved it within three seconds.
There’s no conch.
He’s trying to get us to feed on the truth.
Yeah, it’s not going to happen.
I’m trying to create murder.
No one has asthma.
It’s going to be fine.
Because if the two of you murder each other, there’s more food for me.
There’s no food.
Well, ratings would go up.
You robots eat alcohol.
Ratings would go up.
Viewership would go up.
Yeah, it’s good for the ratings.
But if you take, for example, Adderall or speed, right?
People like you focus on things, you perceive things that aren’t there.
But that doesn’t mean those things weren’t there to begin with.
There are absolutely ways to change human perception chemically, through glasses, through
None of that changes the fact that the reality underneath it is real and is causing this
And it has a particular nature, right?
And all it’s doing is changing the focus, right?
So if I take off my glasses, I’m seeing the same thing.
I’m just seeing something’s out of focus and maybe in the distance, I can’t see something.
It’s just gone.
And then I put it on.
There it is.
That thing was always there.
It’s just the sensitivity I have to it has changed.
And it’s absolutely not sensitive to everything equally.
And drugs can change the relative sensitivities.
It doesn’t change reality.
It changes our ability to focus on reality.
Let me give you one great example, the microscope.
I forget who it was.
His name was with an L, the scientist who discovered it.
He had a drop of water and he’s seeing monsters, the protozoa in this drop of water.
For him, it must have been, it is like a drug experience, like, wait a minute, I’m drinking
And there’s alien beings whose shapes are completely crazy in this water.
Those beings were always there.
Those beings were there before any of us were here.
They’ve been there for billions of years.
But because he had this apparatus, now he’s able to see protozoa.
No one’s arguing protozoa are extradimensional, no one’s arguing the supernatural, amoebas
are well studied, paramecia, all the other lots.
So if these elves, the machine elves are real, and the only way to perceive them is through
DMT or something like that, that doesn’t contradict the broader point that they’ve always been
there and this is the mechanism for perceiving them.
So here’s the word I was looking for, it’s the word actually Greg taught me this, so
So it’s resolution, right?
So it’s resolution.
My resolution changes with the glasses.
My resolution gets finer with the microscope.
So there’s probably some bacteria here on the table.
There’s no doubt about it.
I can’t see them.
I can’t use the microscope to not see them, but they’re either there or they’re not there.
And I have the tools to discover whether they are there or they’re not there.
And that’s called a microscope.
Now there could be even smaller beings that even with a microscope, I won’t be able to
define, but that’s completely arbitrary to claim that, that they’re there until I find
a tool to be able to discover it.
The same with what you see if you’re seeing other beings when you’re taking psychedelics.
Unless you find another tool to be able to see them with, the simplest assumption is
probably the truest assumption.
But even the not simplest assumption doesn’t contradict the broader point.
Which is again, reality is what it is.
If it turns out that there are these creatures that you can only see with psychedelics, and
there are these creatures that you can only see with psychedelics, and our resolution
while we’re not on psychedelics is not fine enough to observe them.
That doesn’t change the fact that we evolved to survive in reality as it is.
What do you do with the possibility that our resolution as it currently stands is really,
Well, it’s not.
No, but you don’t know that.
No, we know it.
We know it completely.
Compared to who?
Compared to the future possibilities like artificial intelligence.
It is true.
Hundreds of years.
It is crappy compared to the future.
But that’s not relevant.
Or just the magnitude of crappy.
No, but here I’ll use the standard that Hoffman uses, evolution, right?
The reason I know that our resolution is phenomenal, it’s phenomenally good, right?
Because look at us, we’re sitting here comfortably in an apartment with air conditioning and
in warm Austin with microphones and we did all this stuff, we’re really good at survival
and changing the environment.
Indeed, if you look at the species that we know of, there’s not a species that come anywhere
close to our ability to deal with reality, to observe reality, to understand reality
and to shape it.
Now in the future, well, we’ll come up with machines that can figure out stuff that we
have no clue about today.
That’s only because we’re so well suited to reality that can we create those machines.
And I promise you, in the future, it’s going to be much more what you’re saying.
That’s how it’s going to happen.
No, but the thing is, when the creatures from the future look back to the things we’re saying
now, what Aydin Rand is saying, what you’re saying with certainty, do you think they’ll
laugh at the level of how much confusion there was, how much inaccuracy?
Let me get this one.
You know what they’re going to do?
They’re going to either read Aristotle or read any of these great geniuses of the past.
It’s like these people didn’t have electricity.
They didn’t have warm clothes or anything, and they’re able to figure out the diameter
of the Earth.
Like the creativity to be and to get it within a few miles.
The creativity and to figure out the speed of light when you don’t even have a stopwatch.
When you look back, a lot of it’s nonsense, but it’s like when you’re talking to a kid.
They would disregard the nonsense, and when they get something right, it’s awe.
So it’s never a numbers game, right?
So it’s the few that validate and justify the rest.
So when you look at Aristotle, he’s talking about there was one of those causes which
is like time travel and it doesn’t really make sense.
But you look at the rest of this stuff or even Plato or any of these greats, it’s like,
oh my, this is an amazing miracle.
I wouldn’t say literally miracle, I got you, everyone.
But at the same time, yeah, a lot of these other people had stupid ideas.
You don’t care.
You care about those great, great minds and how they moved us all forward.
To this day, we still study Pythagoras.
And it’s not even just the sciences and the math.
Think about the philosophy.
How much is there to learn from reading Aristotle or Plato or Socrates when you disagree with
How many giants have there been in all of human history that have had the minds of Socrates
or Plato and Aristotle?
A thousand years where they look back at Plato and Aristotle and admire them?
Well, they find certain things that are wrong, yes, but certain things that Aristotle discovered
are absolutely right and will always be right.
Certain things that Ayn Rand discovered will always be right.
I think a lot of what she came up with, will some things be discovered to be wrong?
You know, that wouldn’t shock me.
But the genius and the truth that we know today is amazing.
It’s stunning to be pessimistic about us because in the future we’ll know more.
Not pessimistic, but more humble.
There’s no reason to be humble.
I mean, I really think humility is a vice, not a virtue.
What’s there to be humble about?
Look at life.
This is amazing.
We should be…
But the word humble has different meanings.
I know what it’s going to get.
I mean, humility in a sense of not appreciating the genius and the ability and the success
and all the stuff that we as individuals, I think, in our lives, but as a culture, as
a movement, if you think about movement in terms of those of us who respect reason have
achieved in spite of the odds, we should be proud of that and pride as the virtue.
Humility in the sense of, yeah, I know there’s more to know.
I know there’s a lot more to know and in the future we’ll know more.
But I don’t think that’s the way…
See, I take humility as the way the Christians use it, which is the other way.
And I think it’s a real vice.
It’s don’t think of yourself too much just because you can think that’s no big deal or
just because you can create this stuff.
It is a big deal.
Your achievements are a big deal and you should take credit for them.
So be careful with the word humility because the real meaning is the Christian meaning,
which is a very, very bad meaning.
Let me be a little pedantic because there’s no such thing as real meaning, right?
So there’s different meanings.
This is semantics, but here’s another real meaning that you’re not going to disagree
with, which is the smartest person on earth is ignorant of 99.9% of knowledge, right?
So if I meet someone who is less intelligent than me and less informed than me, it is still
certain that this person has things to teach me.
If I go to a mechanic and maybe this guy’s dumb as rocks.
I don’t know anything about cars.
What he tells me about that car is good.
I could take it to the bank.
He’s going to be in a position to inform me.
So one of the reasons humility is extremely important is very often you have people and
you see this very much in academia who think you know exactly where I’m going around who
think they’re know what else and they think, oh, I have this degree.
You’re a layman.
You’ve never been formally educated.
Therefore not only you dumb and uneducated and you’re wrong.
And it’s like this person might be have won a great example of this.
And this is an example you might not like is a lot of times you have these native populations
and they’ll have a better understanding of the animals around them, the plants, the fruits,
And you’d have these scientists and be like, oh, they’re talking about this monster in
This giant, this giant ape.
But it was real.
It was the gorilla.
But you know, you dismiss them because, oh, these are stupid, ignorant, whatever people
that’s kind of changed to some extent.
But that is an aspect of humility that I think behooves especially highly intelligent people
because there is such a presumption to be dismissive of people who you regard as less
But they’re often right.
So I agree.
I agree with all of the concrete examples.
I just think we should come up with a better word than humility.
And I don’t have one because I’m not I’m not a woodsmith.
This is not my strength.
But humility, humility is a is a word from the Christian ethics.
And it means something very specific in the field of ethics.
And it means the opposite of of what I think virtue requires.
It’s to put you down.
It’s to it’s to it’s to resist pride.
And I think pride is a very important thing.
I don’t know.
But again, you have to define your terms properly.
Hating myself has has been quite useful for me as well, but that’s because you’re Russian
So by what this changes, you know, this is this is what happens, right?
We’re brought up to, you know, to to feel exactly that way in a good Russian boy.
So we got him.
Oh, my God.
What is this?
What is this?
What is that?
What it says?
But as long as you’re good.
But is it kosher?
Yes, it is.
Check if it’s kosher.
This is Ukrainian, my friend.
Oh, oh, my God.
That is a sin.
How dare you?
That is really simple.
You know, me and Sinai were born in the same town.
My dad is Ukrainian.
Don’t get mad.
So I don’t think I don’t think self self.
What did you how did you define it?
I think self hate is quite destructive.
Speak for yourself.
I think that humility is quite destructive.
Humility in the sense of I’m no big deal.
I mean, if you’ve achieved something in life, you are a big deal.
You are a big deal because, you know, look, you got the two of us to fly into town just
to sit down here and have a conversation with you.
You’re a big deal.
That says more about you than me.
We’re just desperate.
We’re lonely and depraved.
I’m not lonely.
I might be desperate.
I’m starting to question your ability to reason with the decisions you’re making on the on
the aspect of and I should mention that The Idiot by Dostoevsky is one of my favorite
novels and there is a Christian ethic that runs through that.
I mean, because because, yeah, I mean, particularly but I hate to bring this up, but particularly
Russians and particularly Russian Jews and particularly Eastern European Jews are incredibly
There’s a there’s a there’s a real Christian theme in in Judaism that’s that’s about guilt.
Guilt is not there’s no guilt in Judaism.
King David doesn’t feel any guilt.
There’s no guilt in the in the Old Testament.
Plenty of guilt.
Once Christianity has an impact on Judaism, we’re raised to feel this way.
We’re raised to be humble.
We’re raised not to feel special.
We were raised to think we’re no big deal and to and our mothers put us down and and
use that against us and try to inflict guilt on us.
They raise us up and then they knock us down.
It’s a mechanism, but it’s it’s a cultural mechanism.
And I think it’s very destructive to self esteem and to happiness.
Let me and I’ll give you a great he’s absolutely right with what he just said.
Why is he right?
Because like my family, for example, it still doesn’t really understand how I could pay
the rent because I don’t go into an office.
And like when I started out trying to be a writer, the immediate reaction isn’t which
is a lot of times I talk to kids, right, and they have these aspirations.
And I’ll tell them, go for it while you’re young.
If you fail, you’ll go to your grave with like I tried my best.
I didn’t make it happen.
Whereas if you don’t try and never achieve, you are going to feel horrible for the rest
of your life.
And this is the example I use all the time.
I bring up many times I go go to any bookstore and look at all those terrible, terrible books
on the shelves that you wonder, how is this a book that could be you?
You could be that crappy writer.
But the thing is, in that culture that Yaron was talking about, you tell your family, I’m
going to be a writer.
Who do you think you are?
Why do you think you’re going to be?
You’re no Stephen King.
And it’s like, why do you have to be Stephen King?
Why can’t you just be a mediocre, crappy writer making the rent?
The best that you can be.
But even that is an amazing accomplishment.
If I don’t have to go to an office and I write books that not that many people read, this
is the story of my life, at the same time, I do have pride because I made this happen.
You can be the best version.
I mean, this is a cliche, but you can be the best version of yourself.
It’s not a competition.
And yet our Jewish mothers, that’s not what they aspire us to be.
They aspire us to be the best version of what they imagine, what the culture imagines, what
society imagined, not what, it’s not about you in their minds.
And I’ve seen it, I see it all around me.
People putting their kids down, putting themselves down.
It’s not healthy.
I’ve never told this story, I’m going to tell it now.
When I graduated college, I was a temp for a while because I didn’t know what I wanted
And when you’re a temp, it’s like playing roulette.
You’re going to have jobs that pay well, that suck, and pay well that are great or that
are great that don’t pay well and suck and pay poorly.
But it’s you and you’re 21, you have that kind of space.
And my grandmother was talking to her brother, you know, he’s talking about his kids, she’s
talking about me, she’s, you know, from Odessa.
And she told me she lied to him about how much money I was making.
And that’s something I’ve never brought up and it still hurts me.
Because it’s like, your approval of me should be a function of my character, my happiness.
And the fact that you feel ashamed over how much money I’m making, especially at this
point in my life, I thought was very, really misplaced priorities.
I don’t know.
I don’t know what to make of that.
I think there’s a huge benefit to the humility, terms aside, for believing that others can
teach you a lot.
Everybody, everybody can teach you a lot.
I think we all agree on that.
I just mentioned that, the mechanic.
No, you do.
Exactly the point.
But for that, I do believe you have to not constantly sort of break your ego apart and
constantly question whether you know anything about this world and sort of there’s a negativity
with it that I think is very useful.
And it’s also very fulfilling, just constantly.
I don’t know.
It’s the other way around.
I find that the more, the more I know, the more I know I know, the easier it is for me
to learn from other people.
The broader a context I have, the more curious I become, the more areas I know.
You know, it’s true that the more you know, the more areas you know you don’t know.
And the more I find myself attracted to people who can teach me something about things I
Whereas if I was ignorant, if I truly believed I didn’t know anything, I don’t know how I
It would really completely challenge everything, everything about life for me.
Where would I even start?
You wouldn’t know where to start.
So no, I think, and if you don’t recognize what you know, you don’t have a full appreciation
So really building a recognition of what do I know, right?
And how much do I know is really crucial to living.
And I’ll tell you something else that furthers my life enormously is when you reach a certain
point in your career in your life, and you’re talking to people who are a lot younger, and
they might be smart, driven, intelligent, they lack data.
When you’re 23, you don’t know how to speak corporate, you don’t know what the code words
So if I am in a position to sit down with this kid and be like, do X, Y, and Z, and
here’s why I’m coming to this conclusion.
This is the information that released me this conclusion.
And I can save them from some of the suffering I went through.
That is very gratifying.
It’s making the world a better place.
And it’s also the opposite in a sense of humility, because like, in this context, I’m an expert,
or at least knowledgeable enough that I’m comfortable giving you advice.
And look, everything I do is about me knowing stuff that other people don’t.
And I know a lot of stuff other people don’t, and I do.
And it’s fun.
I’m a teacher.
I’m a teacher at heart, always have been.
It turns out, I didn’t know that early on, but I like becoming an expert and then trying
to teach people.
It doesn’t mean I know everything.
Quite the contrary.
Again, the more I know, the more I know that the certain things I don’t know and the certain
areas of expertise I don’t have.
But look, pride is a broader concept than that.
Pride is about, and humility is the opposite of pride.
And Christianity has that right.
Pride is about taking your life seriously.
Pride is about wanting to be really good at living, wanting to have the knowledge.
And I think what you’re describing is, you’re describing as I’m constantly learning.
Sometimes I have to challenge myself, I have to question what I believe in order to gain
That’s all good, but that is a drive that is driven by pride.
You want to know.
There are lots of people out there that don’t want to know, because they don’t have that
They don’t have that commitment to live, the commitment to achieving something.
And I’m going to say something else that I think is crucial.
Humility is extremely important when it comes to politics.
Because if you feel comfortable telling someone you’ve never met how to live their life, that
is a complete lack of humility.
I lack it, obviously, because I tell people how to live all the time.
Not through force.
That’s what I’m saying.
And of course, not in the concrete.
I don’t tell them, you know, move to, although I do tell them to move to Austin, but I don’t
tell them this is what you do as a profession.
But I give them the principles, because I think they’re principles of how to live.
They’re making the choice.
That’s my point.
Politically, what I’m saying is it shows a lack of humility to be like, I’ve never met
This is how I’m going to take money from him.
I’m going to…
See, but I don’t see that humility.
No, it’s the lack of humility.
No, but it’s not even a lack of humility, because it’s…
Who am I to tell them how to live?
That’s lack of humility.
No, of course you’re not.
No, who are you to tell them how to live is an issue of…
It’s an issue of force and rights and a bunch of different things.
I don’t think it’s a lack of humility there.
I think it’s a lack of being a human being.
It can be both.
I think it’s, who gives you the right to dictate to somebody else how to live their lives?
Yeah, but that’s a lack of humility, if you think you have that right.
Again, we’re using humility in a very different way.
No, we’re using the same way, because the person who feels comfortable, they think,
I know better than you how you should live your life to the point where I’m a couple
forcing you, because I know it’s gonna be best for you in the long run.
And the answer is you don’t know.
Right, but that’s a lack of humility.
I think in your mind, you’re on humility somehow tied to the Christian concept, the humility,
and so you’re kind of allergic to the word.
Well, absolutely, because it’s part of…
If you look at the cardinal virtues, the cardinal sins in Christianity, pride is a cardinal
sin and humility is a cardinal virtue, but they don’t mean it in the sense, because they’re
happy to tell you how to live, right?
They’re happy to be philosopher kings over your life, and they believe that’s being humble.
And you should be humble, by the way, in listening to the Pope or listening to God, because what
do you know?
You know nothing.
God knows everything, so you should shut up and do what you’re told.
That’s the sense in which I don’t think you should be humble.
I mean, it’s a sense in which I always use the example of Abraham, right?
God comes to Abraham and says, go kill your oldest son, your only son, right?
Your only son.
Go kill him.
And what does Abraham do?
He says, yes, sir.
And he’s a moral hero, for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he’s a moral hero, because he follows
orders, because he’s humble.
I would tell God to go to hell.
I’m not killing my son.
There’s no way.
But he killed…
I mean, he killed his son, so it’s only fair.
Well, this is before he killed his son, so I didn’t know that, right?
No, but part of the evil, part of the evil of Christianity is that he’s killed his son
in the most torturous form of death possible.
I mean, the whole story of Jesus is one of the most immoral, unjust stories ever told,
and that Christians elevate this to a position of…
I’d love to have this conversation with Jordan, right?
The idea of elevating…
That’ll never happen.
No, it won’t.
But elevating Jesus, exactly, elevating Jesus to a superhero status for one of the most
immoral acts in human history is horrific.
So yeah, I mean, I’m opposed to God sacrificing his own son, never mind my son, but let him
go do it to his own son.
But he didn’t kill Isaac.
He killed the goat.
The story’s about Abraham, not about God.
First of all, God is mean, right, to put Abraham through that.
But Abraham has to assume that he’s going to kill his son, and he lifts his…
He’s going to do it, and he stopped.
So the whole point is obedience.
That’s what humility leads to.
It leads to the opposite of the story you were telling.
It leads to people saying, yes, I should be told what to do.
Where’s the authority who actually knows something?
I don’t know anything.
No, I know a lot, and I know a lot about my life.
So you stay away from my life because I have pride in my life.
The science is settled, right?
Look at these experts.
Who am I to argue with these experts?
They tell me to drink dog pee.
I’m going to drink…
What am I, not drink dog pee?
Let’s go back to the island.
Speaking of which…
We’re on an island again?
We’re back to the island.
And let’s go to the island.
I live on an island.
Everything is an island in some context.
Like Earth is an island.
This universe is an island in a multiverse.
There’s no multiverses.
There’s only one universe.
So let’s invite Jordan Peterson to this island.
Hold on a sec.
Look him up.
I don’t know.
I don’t know, Lex says something as big of a following almost as Jordan does.
I know Jordan.
I know his family actually through Jim Keller, who’s his relative.
He’s an engineer.
And I just talked to Sam, who is perhaps a little bit aligned in some sense on your perspective
on religion and so on.
So let me ask, is there some…
Other things, no.
Sam Harris, yeah.
I thought you were talking about baseball.
I just talked to Sam.
Let’s talk about humility.
Let’s talk about humility, Lex.
My buddy Sam.
I was talking to Barack.
You might know him.
Humility went out the window.
I’m just a natural language processing model that I assume that once I mentioned Jordan
Peterson, it becomes an obvious statement what Sam means.
This is how neural networks think.
This is how robots think, Michael, you should know this.
I thought by now you’d be a scholar.
For the sake of the audience.
Everything can teach you something, even the robot.
So do you think there’s value in religion or broader?
Do you think there’s value in myth?
And as we’ve been talking about the value of reason, do you think it’s possible to argue
in society as we grow the population of our little island that there’s some value of common
myths, of common stories, of common religion?
There was value.
There is no value today.
So human beings need explanations, right?
They need a philosophy to guide their life.
They need ethics.
They need some explanation of what’s going on in the world, right?
And it’s no accident that the early religions had a river god and they had a sun god and
a moon god because everything they didn’t understand, they made god, right?
So they had multiple gods because they didn’t understand very much.
As human understanding evolved, it increased, as we knew reality more, right?
We came to the conclusion of, you know, this is very inefficient to have all these gods.
This is a genius of Judaism, right?
Let’s just have one bucket to put all the stuff we don’t know in and we’ll call it one
god and then we don’t, as we gain new knowledge, we can just take it out of the bucket that’s
god and put it into the bucket of science.
At some point, though, at some point, and that point suddenly came during the scientific
revolution, I think, we could come to the conclusion that, no, we don’t need this bucket
that’s called god to explain the things that we don’t know.
We can say we don’t know and we’re learning.
And slowly our knowledge is increasing and yet there’s a lot more that we don’t know,
but we don’t need to throw it into some bucket that’s called god in order to have it.
And I think that’s true for morality and it’s true for everything else, right?
As we gain the tools to understand what morality requires, we don’t need a set of commandments.
We can figure out morality from human nature and from reality.
So I don’t think we need religion anymore.
I think religion needed to die probably about 200 years ago and was dying, I think, up until
It seemed to be dying.
Kant’s missions, as he says, is to revive religion against attack of reason in the Enlightenment.
Now mythology is a little different because it depends what you mean by mythology.
Certainly we need stories and certainly we need art.
Art is a…
And Rand writes about this a lot and she’s an artist and she writes in…
I’m a huge fan of the Romantic Manifesto, which I think is one of her underappreciated
Oh, I hate it.
So I think we have a real need, right?
As a conceptual being, we have a need for aesthetic experiences.
We have a need to concretize abstractions, to concretize abstract ideas, to concretize
the complex nature of the world out there.
And that’s what painting sculpture, to an extent music, but painting sculpture literature
does for us.
So to the extent that mythology serves that purpose, it’s just art, right?
To the extent that it serves another purpose, that is that it’s a way for the gods to communicate
with us or it fits some kind of preexisting mental construct that we have as, again, kind
of a conscientious perspective, right?
That we have these categorical imperatives and this mythology links up to that.
Then I think it’s false, it’s not helpful and destructive.
So I believe religion today is a destructive force on planet Earth.
I think it’s always been a destructive force.
It was just a necessary force, right?
You needed an explanation.
People needed something to believe in.
Once you get philosophy and once you get philosophy that starts explaining real life, real world,
you don’t need religion anymore and indeed it becomes a destructive force.
And you look around the world today, it’s an unbelievably destructive force.
Everywhere it touches is bad for life.
Again, mythology depends, art is essential, very, very crucial to human existence.
I mean, I’d love to hear what you think, but you don’t see religion and philosophy and
mythology as just a continuous spectrum?
So religion is a primitive form of philosophy.
Where I thought Rand was going to go and he didn’t go was that I think he, I agree with
what he’s going to say, Rand was a mythologizer.
In certain specific contexts Atlas Shrugged is a myth.
It’s one thing to sit down and say, these are the people who move us forward.
These are the values that are important.
When you experience it through a story, through a movie, through a TV show, a poem or a painting,
it affects you in a very visceral, very different way.
Talk about American history.
You have the founding fathers, then you have the myth of the founding fathers.
Now, unfortunately the term myth often means lie, but it could mean in a useful sense,
an abstraction to help you systematize and concretize ideas.
So you have the myth of Reagan, you have the myth of Thatcher, the reality often falls
But when you look at how these different figures are mythologized, not only is it very inspirational
on a personal level, very motivating on a personal level, it’s also a great way to concretize
ideas because just how humans think, it’s one thing to think about ideas, but when you
see someone who embodies these ideas, Miss America, I was saying earlier, I had an aster
on my show, these people might be jerks.
But when you look at them, one specific aspect of their life and you extrapolate it, that
could be to anyone very motivating.
And it’s very important for people to have the belief that happiness and achievement
is possible because it’s very hard to keep that in mind, especially if you’re depressed,
if you’re anxious, you’re unemployed, you don’t have a girlfriend, you think it’s going
to be like this forever.
And then you look at someone’s story and they’re like, you know what, that astronaut interview,
Clayton Anderson, he applied 13 times, didn’t get a call back, applied the 14th time, got
a call back, didn’t get the job, 15th time he get the job.
He talks to kids and he goes, listen, apply 13 times.
Even if you don’t get the call back, you’ll still feel I’m doing something.
And having heard him and the myth of Clayton Anderson, this is going to tell people, yeah,
you know what?
That could be me.
And it’s not just happiness, it’s the fact that virtue works, that the integrity, I mean,
what’s the power of the fountainhead?
I know you love the fountainhead.
Part of the power of the fountainhead is how it works, absolute commitment to integrity.
He is committed to integrity and he’s happy.
And it’s very rare in life to see that, to actually see a concrete of that.
And it’s very hard to hold it in your mind.
Yes, I’m going to be stuck in the quarry or I’m going to be stuck doing this horrible
But if I stick to my principles, I’m going to be how it works.
Now I’ve got that concrete.
I know I can immediately relate to that success.
So I think art is essential.
And I think in a sense, what we do to Thatcher and Reagan is art.
You have to be careful in true stories, not to diverge too far from reality because then
when you discover the reality, you don’t want to whitewash it, and particularly when it
has political implications and then it’s really bad.
So particularly with Reagan and Thatcher, you have to be careful because they want anyone
near as good as people try to make them out to be.
But these are powerful, powerful, powerful stories and people are moved by it.
And the integration of emotion with reason is crucial.
One of the goals to be happy is to bring your emotions in line with your thinking.
And I think that stories and arts more broadly, and when I go and see Michelangelo’s David,
it does the same thing to me.
I can stand up to anybody because he did.
And look, he succeeded.
And it makes sense that he could.
So this is a really interesting idea of bringing your emotion in line with your thinking, with
So Ben Shapiro famously has this saying, how do you like that transition, Michael?
Give me props.
I know you do.
He’s not Ben, it’s Ben Shapiro.
Someone is not taking your calls.
I guess it’s a daily, don’t take the caller.
Back to the island with the murder.
I think we know.
We would know who would be committing the murder.
I have the suit for it.
So he has the saying of facts don’t care about your feelings.
And I’ve always felt badly about that statement somehow, like it was incomplete.
So it’s interesting that you mentioned bringing your emotions in line with your thinking.
What do you think about that statement?
I got this one.
What Ben is doing in a loose way is attacking Kantianism because Kant, it’s almost impossible
for Westerners who aren’t schooled in this to understand the idea of philosophical idealism
because it sounds so crazy that you’re like, these great minds of all time can’t really
be saying this.
I must be missing something.
So when we hear idealism, we think John F. Kennedy is a good example.
You aspire things.
You think life can be better than it is.
That’s not what it means in a philosophical sense.
In philosophical idealism, it means ideas are more real than reality.
That I have this idea, then this comes along.
It’s the reality that isn’t correct.
My idea is still correct.
A good example of this that you see all the time on the internet is when they refer to
Mitt Romney and John McCain as rhinos, Republicans in name only.
And it’s like, who is more a real Republican?
The nominee of the party, the Senator, the governor of the party, or some person in your
mind who has never existed and there’s no evidence for them existing.
So what Kant did is he bifurcated reality into what we see around us, the phenomenal
world, but then it’s inferior.
The real world, the noumenal world, we can’t access it because we have eyes.
We only see the thing as it appears, not as it is in itself.
And because of this, everything we know is a shadow and is secondary.
And that’s Plato, straight out of Plato.
And the real reality is this realm of ideas.
So when Ben is saying facts don’t care about your feelings, what he is really saying is
reality comes first.
Your feelings have to be a response or a reaction to it.
You can’t say, this is how I feel.
This table doesn’t care.
You can yell at it all day long.
It will still be indifferent to your emotional state because it comes first.
So it’s a great statement.
I think he’s cribbing it from Ayn Rand in a sense, and there’s a sense in which he is.
I mean, who popularized that kind of idea?
And Ben has read Ayn Rand quite extensively.
Not enough to reference her.
That’s the way the army goes.
So yeah, obviously.
He may be read enough, but didn’t understand enough.
But so it’s absolutely reality.
Reality is unaffected by your emotional state and your feelings about it.
And this is a great claim against the idealism, the philosophical idealism of much of the
world out there, both left and right.
I think politically, culturally, the left and right are detached from reality.
They live in a different dimension, in a different space that they are creating in their own
minds that has nothing to do with the real world.
And when they fail, they make stuff up to justify their failure, right?
So all of really the ideas that are promulgated today on both sides are this kind of detached
We’re putting emotions or ideas before reality itself.
But I believe that emotions are responses.
The responses to reality conditioned by our existing concepts.
You’re going to have to talk slowly to talk emotions to Lex because he doesn’t really
understand what that is.
I don’t understand.
That’s a really, you got to really taste your words.
But he’s big on love?
What is love?
But he’s big on love?
He’s trying to learn.
Pretty big on love.
I’m all in, I’m a love maximalist.
I mean, I could create, we could create an environment on this island where you would
really feel emotions.
Like fear is an emotion.
That’s the metaphysical terror.
We could easily terrorize you to the point where you felt fear, right?
So we could teach him about emotion.
But emotions are a response to reality.
So some people, for example, you could take five different people and show them exactly
the same thing.
And some of them would feel fear and some of them would actually feel indifferent and
other people might feel love, right?
I think Leonard Peacock uses the example of looking through a microscope and seeing a,
I don’t know, a virus or bacteria.
And for one, it’s a scientist, he’s made a new discovery.
He feels pride and love and awe.
The one has no clue, right, and he’s looking at this and it means nothing to them and somebody
else might look at it and it’s a bacteria and they feel fear because of what it could
do to them.
So it’s conditioned by what you know, what your values are and your level of knowledge
and what the thing is out there in reality.
And it’s that into, so your emotions respond to that.
So aligning your emotions with your reason is making sure that your emotions are really
conditioned by what you know explicitly versus what you’ve internalized implicitly that
you might not agree with anymore.
You know, things might happen in your childhood and they probably do, right, where you get
I don’t know, I’m afraid of dogs and maybe when I was a five year old, some dogs jumped
at me and I don’t even remember it, right?
But I came to a conclusion when I was five, dogs bad, dogs dangerous, right?
And now anytime I see a dog, oh my God, that bringing my emotions aligned with reality,
right, with my ideas is no, now I understand dogs don’t have to be scary.
I can work through this and there are various techniques and hopefully if there is such
a science of psychology, but in psychology to get you to the point where you can get
rid of that fear and align your emotion now with your explicit ideas, and that’s what
I mean by that.
And let me build on that, talking about your friend Putin, I think I mentioned this before
at least maybe on the show, he was meeting with Angela Merkel.
Oh, Vladimir, please.
Yeah, Vlad, my boy Vlad.
He was meeting with Angela Merkel, Angela Merkel has a fear of dogs, so he brought out
his big Labrador Retriever, now for people who don’t know, Labradors are very big dogs,
but they’re also like the least aggressive, it’s like you could punch them in the face,
they don’t care.
That dog is not going to be more likely to attack just because she’s scared.
And I know they say animals can sense fear, domesticated dogs, if they see you’re scared,
they’re not going to be aggressive, they’re going to try to play.
I remember when I was a kid, there was this dog, Rex, this German Shepherd, I’m five,
this dog is gigantic, and I’m sitting on the couch, the German Shepherds have been bred
for intelligence, they’re very bright dogs, they’re very good with kids, he’s sitting
next to me, this thing is three times my size.
He very gently puts his paw on my leg to be like, kid, he can sense my fear, he’s like,
I’m not going to do it, I want to be your friend, I’m still freaking out.
He licks my hand, it’s just very scary, you know, animals are so bright, but that’s the
thing is, in terms of facts don’t care about your feelings, that dog is not more likely
to attack someone because their emotion is so intense.
It’s not that I feel something very strongly, therefore, this thing is more likely to happen.
So my intensity of my emotion does not in any way correlate, when you’re being irrational,
to the likelihood of that thing actually happening.
Now, you could have a dog that does respond to your emotion, right?
But then it’s, but then it’s not, that’s part of reality, right?
That’s a fact of reality that certain dogs respond to certain emotions.
But isn’t this emotion a part of reality, like, okay, let me say a word.
So part of that, I would even say, don’t let your emotion about your emotion, right, because
sometimes you have an emotion about your emotion, don’t be repressed, and identify the emotion
as reality, and evaluate it, don’t judge it, evaluate it.
Is it a rational emotion?
Is it consistent with my, like, if I’m afraid of these dogs, if I feel that fear, is it
rational to be afraid of these dogs?
But you’re speaking to your own individual trajectory as a human being as you grow through
the world and try to understand reality and connect yourself through reason to reality.
What I’m talking about is a term like lived experience.
When you observe and analyze the, you know, conversations with other people to try to
understand how other people see the world, doesn’t emotion fundamentally integrate into
Like, isn’t emotion lived experience?
So everybody experiences the same reality, but the way they experience it might be very
And that has to do with what?
It doesn’t have to do with…
With their values, with their conclusions, with their ideas, with their experiences,
with a million different things, right?
But is it…
But at the end of the day, it’s about the conclusions that they come to, which are then
shaping their emotions.
But look, emotions are not something to be avoided or ignored.
That is, I can sense your emotions to some extent, right?
That’s a lie.
Okay, it is Lex.
I can sense his emotions.
I can sense Michael’s emotions, and that’s part of the fact of reality, right?
So if Michael responds to something that I view as really, really important, right?
If we were standing in front of Michelangelo’s David, and Michael responds to Michelangelo’s
David and goes, eh, and turned his back to it and walked away, that would be really meaningful
to me, right?
That I would respond emotionally to that, and cognitively I would say, what is it about
Michael that makes him, you know, respond this way?
That gives me a lot of information about him.
So emotions are information laden, right?
But they are not primary.
They are responses, responses to something.
So one must be very aware of one’s own emotions, recognize them, and analyze them.
And one should be aware of other people’s emotions, if they’re important to you, if
they’re not important to you.
It doesn’t matter, right?
You don’t care about a stranger’s emotion, you know, like a stranger walks up to Michael
and Michelangelo’s David and said, eh, and walks away, and I go, okay, I’m glad you’re
Now, I don’t know what Michael’s response to Michelangelo’s David was or is, so I’m
a little worried about what he’s gonna say.
You got candy too, that was great.
Hey, hey, I thought I was special.
Do I get Ukrainian candy?
I don’t know, I can’t read either.
What’s this say, Joshua?
What does that say to him?
Is this Ukrainian candy as well?
I thought it was sent to me from…
Do you know that Atlas Shrugged was the bestselling book in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016?
Do you know Atlas Shrugged was translated to Russian by someone who’s now a crypto like
billionaire and he made like six copies and I have one of them and I sent it to my great
No, they’re more than six, but yeah.
Oh, but they were like…
Because I have a copy too.
Not I personally, the institute has a copy.
I sent it to my great grandma and she said, why is he sending me this, I wanna read books
And I’m like, you know what?
This is about love.
That’s what you should have said.
What’s that, what does that say?
So this says it’s…
It has vitamins and minerals.
If it’s in Russian, I don’t believe it.
It just sounds really strange to read like health information in Russian, I’m already
But look, there’s a Yorshik like you have.
I mean, I’m much, I like Kiev much more than I like Moscow.
But this is, this is not, it’s like hard candy.
I don’t know.
I think this, some of my friends sent me that’s made with blood to give the kids iron.
Like cow blood.
Like with chocolate.
You can keep it.
That’s all you.
I’m keeping both of these.
Can I take something you’re talking about with emotion?
Something that is very pernicious in terms of emotion is people denying the validity
of their own emotions.
And here’s one example, someone could be in an abusive relationship or have had an
abusive childhood and they think, well, I didn’t have a black eye.
We had dinner on the table.
It wasn’t abusive because you hear some other story.
So they feel their emotion is invalid or like, oh, he never lays hands on me.
He gets drunk and is mean to me.
He’s still basically a good person.
You’re denying that emotion.
And that emotion is a response to something real.
There’s an expression, I have friends who are in 12 step programs.
There’s an expression there, which I think is very profound, which is if it’s hysterical,
Meaning if some minor incident is having an extreme disproportionate impact on you, think,
ask yourself, why am I responding in such an extreme way to some minor thing?
And I will tell you 10 times out of 10, you’ll go back and you’ll be like, oh, I’m feeling
now like I felt when I was eight and my dad came home and he was a total jerk and I didn’t
do anything wrong.
And he thought I had, and I was complete powerless.
And now I’m in the same situation, my boss.
I’m not that eight year old in one sense I am, in another sense I’m not, but I feel the
same way I did as a kid.
And this is a very useful mechanism in terms of furthering one’s happiness because you
kind of deprogram all those things that you picked up as a child.
But it’s also, you know, if you’re feeling something wrong, even though you’re trying
to rationalize in a way, you know, it’s not abusive because he’s not hitting me.
No, the emotion is telling you something real about what’s going on.
So acknowledge it and fix the situation, right?
So one of the powers emotions give you is they send you signals about something that
might not be in cognition yet.
And when you examine their emotion, it brings it to cognition and now you can act on it.
So maybe the boss is abusive, but I didn’t really think of it in those terms of my emotions
is sending me signals.
And now that I signal it, I’m going to resign.
I’m going to find a better, another job.
I’m going to complain to his boss or whatever.
I’m going to take action.
Why do you think Ayn Rand is such a controversial figure?
Last time I spoke with you on this particular podcast, the, the amount of emails I’ve gotten
positive and negative and certainly negative, I don’t usually get negative emails.
I can’t, I can’t relate.
I’m sure mine were all positive or only positive.
It was mostly women sending pictures for me to forward to you because you didn’t send
Oh, it’s the wrong email address.
I kept bouncing.
Oh, so this is love.
But why do you think she’s such a divisive figure?
Why do you think she provokes such emotion in both the positive and the negative side?
I’d love to hear both of your viewpoints on this.
Well, I think on the negative side and both on the positive and the negative side, I think
it’s because she’s radical.
She’s consistently radical.
She upends the, the premises, the ideas that are prevalent in the culture that were brought
up on the, that, that are like, you know, they’re like milk and, and, and, you know,
the basic stuff that we’re, we’re growing up.
You have to be altruistic.
You have to live for other people.
That’s just basic stuff.
Nobody challenges that.
Nobody questions it.
And if they do question it, they usually question it from the perspective of a cynic or a bad
You mentioned the book, the Joker, right.
Before we started, right.
You know, I’m going to upend the world because I don’t care about other people.
So, so they’re presented with these two alternatives and it’s real in people’s lives, right?
You either live for other people or you’re a evil SOB and you know, yeah, most people
in either one of those, but the ethic is right here.
It’s living for other people.
And when you challenge that, they have no way cognitively to go with that.
And the only place they can go with that cognitively is to the Joker.
It’s the evil guy.
It’s the somebody who wants to smash everything and destroy because they don’t have this alternative
conception of, oh no, you can be rationally self interested and that does not involve
destruction and that does not involve, you know, just exploiting other people.
They can’t conceptualize that.
It’s not in their framework.
So it’s the fact that she’s so consistently on the side of self interest, for example,
on the side of capitalism, on the side of freedom.
It’s the fact that she dismisses faith to the extent that she does or to the extent
that I do, right, that alienates people because that is completely different from what they
Now the flip side of that is it’s also really interesting to some people.
So you know, a lot of, you got some positives, right?
And I got a lot of positives from that appearance.
I know a lot of people came to my podcast because I appeared on your show.
Because they hear something that’s completely fresh, new, different, they’ve never heard
It appeals to something in them that maybe, you know, a lot of people say I read Ayn Rand
and it confirmed everything I believed.
Now for me it didn’t.
It was the opposite.
It turned upside down everything I believed, but there are a lot of people out there that
do have a sense that something’s wrong in the world, that altruism is wrong, that socialism,
just the stuff and religion is wrong, but they don’t have an alternative.
It hasn’t coalesced.
And they listen to a lot of podcasts because they’re trying to get ideas of what is it
that I’m sensing that’s wrong out there?
And suddenly somebody comes out and gives them some clear explanation of things and
they go, wow, that’s what I’ve been looking for my whole life.
So that’s the positive for people.
You know, and I read Ayn Rand, it just all made sense.
It all clicked and it all, and it made clear that everything I believed to that point was
It just didn’t, it didn’t integrate.
And I always knew to some extent it didn’t integrate, but there was no alternative, so
I believed it.
What else was there?
I remember saying to myself as a kid, probably 15, why should I, why is this, why is morality
all about other people?
Why is that?
Well, that’s just the way it is, right?
And I couldn’t, couldn’t come up with an explanation.
She gave me the explanation and she gave me the explanation why it’s wrong to do that.
And I think, so I think that’s why people respond.
It’s just too radical.
It can’t fit into their cognitive framework that they have been brought up on, that they’ve
been educated on, that just their whole life revolves around.
Michael, you don’t bring up Ayn Rand that much in conversation, except as kind of references
every once in a while as part of the humor of just the general flow in the music of the
way you like to talk.
Well, why do you think you don’t integrate her into your philosophy when you’re like
explaining ideas and all those kinds of things?
Like, why is she not, you know, a popular reference point for discussion of ideas?
Because I, I don’t know if Yaron’s going to agree with or can agree with me.
I think for a certain percentage of the population, actually I talked to someone from the Ayn
Rand Institute, I forgot his name, older guy with glasses and he didn’t disagree with me.
He said, this is changing.
He said, I think for a certain percentage of the population who are uninformed about
her work, higher than 10%, less than 50%, you mentioned Ayn Rand, they have been trained
to think this is identical Scientology.
So as soon as her name comes up, it’s like, okay, I’m out the door.
I’m not going to have anything to do with this.
And everyone who follows her is a crazy person.
That’s one thing that has happened.
Another thing is Rand in her personality was very aggressive and antagonistic.
She was for a long time, the lone voice in the wilderness being like, this isn’t like
one of her big adversaries in a certain sense is Milton Friedman.
And she really hated how Milton Friedman was like, oh, you know, having rent control is
And she’s like, inefficient?
We’re talking about mass homelessness and people dying.
And you’re talking about this, like what color tie goes with this color shirt?
Are you insane?
And in fact, it’s hilarious.
There was an organization called the Foundation for Economic Education fee.
Leonard Reed was the head of this.
And there were a series of letters and she was helping him.
She was much more philosophically grounded in certain contexts than he was.
And there was an essay, a pamphlet that he published called Roofs or Ceilings.
It was cowritten by Milton Friedman, later Nobel prize winner and George Stigler, also
later Nobel prize winner.
And basically the argument was, well, if the government controls all housing, how’s that
going to work out?
And she’s sitting there and she’s typing in all caps.
So you know, she’s holding on the shift key and doing this on a typewriter and being like
And you can imagine her with her cigarette holder, apoplectic, being like, how is an
organization ostensibly devoted to free enterprise discussing this Stalinist idea in the most
casual of terms?
She’s like, have I taught you not?
And what’s amazing is, so at Fee, they only have her letters because she sent them to
The Ayn Rand Institute must have Leonard Reed’s letters.
I was able to, knowing Rand enough, predict exactly what the conversation would go like
because he also did something she didn’t approve of, which is he asked other people for feedback
on her work.
And she goes, I gave this to you to read.
Who are you shopping around to some jerk that I don’t, I need their approval.
What are you doing?
So it was a very interesting situation, but so that’s one issue.
I remember this is Ayn Rand when she’s young.
She wasn’t that young.
It was in the 40s.
She’s relatively young, right?
It’s before Atlas Shrugged.
It was before Atlas Shrugged.
So it’s before she’s super famous.
And before this is, the found has been published, but you know, she’s trying to work with others
and they are disappointing her left and right.
And also when you are a, what she takes away from bad people is you have these kids, right?
And you’re going to sit down with them and they’re going to be like, yeah, I’m going
to take your guns.
I’m going to lock you in your house.
I’m going to take 60% of your income and all this other stuff.
And they might, up to reading Rand, they might sit down and have a discussion.
And Rand goes, Hey, you know what?
You didn’t have to give them an answer.
You could say, go to hell.
We’re not having this conversation and you have no right to one second of my life.
And this is not a legitimate opener.
This is a declaration of war.
This isn’t like, it’s not like if I sit down with you, I run like, Hey, Ron, here are my
plans for your wife.
Go to hell.
This isn’t a conversation we’re having.
Oh, I’m going to make you unsafe in your house.
This is not a discussion.
So what happens is these people who five minutes ago were able to have a debate with this kid
because people read Rand when they’re young often.
And now that kid is like, yeah, I’m not even talking to you.
It’s her fault.
Whereas in reality, it’s that person’s fault because that person had no right, although
they’ve been trained to the contrary of our culture to believe, yeah, I’m going to sit
down and we’re just going to equally have a discussion over your own life.
And you have one vote and I have one vote and we’re going to know Lex has a vote and
that’s just how it’s going to be and Rand’s not having it.
So I think those are two issues.
And there’s some other things which, which I don’t need to get into.
But I, I, because one of the things that Rand said consisting of her life is that her philosophy
is an integrated whole, right?
So to be an objectivist isn’t just like, I like Atlas shrugged.
It means I accept objectivism as a totality.
Since I do not, I don’t, I think it is proper to be respectful to her wishes and not constantly
be, especially given that I’ve somewhat of a platform to be like Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand,
Ayn Rand, because I don’t think Ayn Rand would have liked it if I was talking about Ayn Rand
So how do you, how do you deprogram?
Because I don’t like to bring up Ayn Rand just because I do see what, like how people
roll their eyes essentially.
So how do you, what’s the upside, exactly.
But what is that pro, can we, can you speak to that programming that people have?
I mean, look, at the end of the day, if you talk about the ideas and the ideas make sense
and people are attracted to the ideas, then you say, oh, by the way, and this came from
Ayn Rand, that’s how you deprogram them, right?
If you make the ideas prevalent in the culture, if people start viewing self interest as something
that’s kind of, that’s interesting and worthwhile and something worth investigating, and they
said, oh, that came from Ayn Rand, then I think, I think then we’ll, we’ll deprogram
them and get them and get them changing their minds about these things.
And also, you know, going on shows where people are going to watch your show no matter who
you bring on.
So, uh, even though now you do, you, if you put, you put Ayn Rand in the title that immediately
reduces the number of people who watch, so, so in the future you shouldn’t, but, uh, you
put Michael Malice in the title and then at least the, the female population, the female
to, you know, absolutely, just to see, but so, so you go and you try to make them as
credible as possible to as many people as possible over time.
It takes time.
And ultimately, I don’t think the culture will have this response to her.
They might still disagree with her, but I think over time, and already you’re seeing
it, younger people, I think today are far less, there was a generation who never read
Ayn Rand and was like this, bring out the garlic and the crosses.
We don’t want to have anything to do with it then.
And I think today there are many more people who’ve read her and might disagree or not
And then there were a lot of people who haven’t read her, but who are not opposed to it or
willing to have an, to engage.
So I think it’s changing already.
And I think in 20 years it’ll be completely different.
And just two more things that she does that I think it says that I think people find very,
very off putting given our culture.
One is she will, basically you could sit down with Rand and be like, your fear is not in
any way a hold on my freedom.
Just that one sentence.
And for a lot of people that’s very off putting and very harsh, it’s correct.
But for them, it’s just like, wait a minute, I’m still scared.
It’s like, I don’t care.
Like for example, like with lockdowns and things like this, it’s like, well, I’m scared
and maybe I have a right to be scared.
Or like, I’m scared that you have a gun in your house.
And it’s like, I respect that you’re scared.
I don’t care.
At the end, as you say at the end of the day, this is my house.
I’m going to live my life as I please, as long as I don’t hurt other people.
Well, you are hurting me because I’m scared.
No, that’s not.
This is the feeling versus fact.
So that is one situation.
This is like a feeling versus freedom, essentially.
Yes, where Rand is, that puts a lot of people off.
I also think that historically, a lot of people who were drawn to her are drawn to her for
the wrong reasons.
That a lot of times, like Howard Rourke, the hero, we’re gonna still say hero.
You’re supposed to say protagonist, but hero.
The hero of the fountainhead, he’s extremely intelligent, but he’s also extremely uncompromising.
What often ends up happening is you’ll have a young kid who is somewhat intelligent, but
then they pick up the personality and now you’re someone I can’t work with.
And then it’s like, you’re not Howard Rourke, relax.
You’re not that skilled.
You’re not that talented.
But because the character has to do personification and have certain aspects together, when kids
read that, they might get the wrong idea.
That’s not Rand’s fault.
And it’s more than that.
It’s so, I completely agree with that, but it’s even broader than that.
So here is, in my view, one of the geniuses of the millennium presenting a philosophy.
And she’s got not just the questions, in my view, she’s got the answers.
And you’re reading them at 16 and you’re reading the answers.
You don’t know at 16 that this is true.
You might have a sense that it’s true, but you don’t have the life experience, the learned
You don’t have the facts, you don’t have the knowledge.
You’re picking up truth.
It’s just being absorbed.
You’re accepting it as true, but you don’t know it’s true.
And then you go out into the world advocating for it, which we all did, or at least I did,
when I was 16.
And you’re obnoxious.
You can’t prove what you’re arguing for because you don’t have the experience.
It took me, I don’t know, 10, 20 years, probably 20, to figure out that I really do think what
she said was true, but I didn’t know when I was 16.
When I was 16, I just absorbed these ideas and accepted them, in a sense, with some connection
to reality, but in a sense, on faith, at least presented it that way.
And as a consequence, you come off as a detached from reality, obnoxious human being.
And I think a lot of young objectivists are, and it’s hard not to be, because you are.
You’re confronted with genius.
And you’re not a genius.
I certainly am not a genius.
And I’m confronted with just genius and have all this information in my head now.
I can’t articulate it.
And it’s hard to deal with yourself.
There’s an inside joke.
No, you said I’m confronted with genius.
I pointed to us.
I mean, I’m confronted with you guys.
I’m at an age where I know how to deal with geniuses.
But there’s something else.
This is not why people don’t like her, but there’s something that the Fountainhead does,
which I think is very, and I don’t blame her, but it’s a bad consequence.
If you read the Fountainhead and you’re young and you’re intelligent and talented, the message
at least I got, and I know I’m not alone, is you are going to think that you’re going
to be a pariah, that a lot of people are going to be against you, and you’re basically doomed
for a short period of being isolated and alone.
And that may have been the case when Fountainhead was written.
But I think now with the internet, and in my experience, both as a youth and someone
who’s a little bit older, I didn’t appreciate, and you’re not going to get it from that book,
and you can’t get it through that book because it has to have a certain narrative, how many
people who are a little older are giddy when they find young talent, how inspiring it is,
how exciting it is.
Like when you talk to these kids who are doing things on the internet or writing or whatever
achievement, you want them to flourish.
You’re not threatened by them as the antagonists of the Fountainhead are, and that doesn’t
come through in the Fountainhead because it depends on your profession, right?
I mean, some of these parts of the world are better than others.
If you’re an artist, at least the way I conceive of art, and you want to go study art today,
you’re going to be pouped and look down on and so on.
So yeah, I agree.
I mean, in my generation, when I read Iron Man, there was no internet, and I was in Israel,
so we were isolated, and there was nobody else who had shared their ideas, and you did
feel that kind of isolation.
But Roark gave you, to me, he didn’t teach me about you’re going to be isolated because
partially because I wasn’t, maybe I was humble, right?
When I read Atlas Shrugged, I identified with Eddie Willis.
When I read the Fountainhead, I didn’t identify with Howard Roark.
How old were you when you read the Fountainhead?
So I read Atlas when I was 16.
I probably read the Fountainhead when I was 16 and a half, 17, something like that.
That is unfathomable crime.
You read the Fountainhead after Atlas Shrugged?
If anyone listening to this, if you read the Fountainhead after Atlas Shrugged, that is
a war crime.
No, for me, reading Atlas Shrugged was much more important.
It is more important, but my point is, I think the Fountainhead in many ways is redundant
in certain aspects if you read Atlas Shrugged first, and because the Fountainhead is such
a masterful book and such a personal book.
I agree with that.
So ideally, you would read the Fountainhead.
That’s what I’m saying, yes.
And here’s the other thing people don’t appreciate, I’m sorry to interrupt you.
People think Rand’s always about politics, politics, politics, politics, but the Fountainhead
is not a political book at all.
It’s about, well, she talks about politics in Mansoul, sure.
But it’s about ethics, how important everyone has to have a moral code.
That’s the other thing why people find Rand off putting.
If you have young people who now find it very important to live a moral life, who are like,
what does that mean to have morality, to have ethics, to live with integrity for people
who have gotten a little older, who have made these little sacrifices, who are like, I’m
not going to fight at work.
Do I really need to look for another job?
Yeah, my wife’s kind of getting annoying, but am I going to make a fight about it?
These little sacrifices that they make every day.
And big ones.
And big ones, absolutely.
So when you have someone who’s forcing you to look in the mirror and say, those little
sacrifices and big sacrifices you made, you did the wrong thing and you’re evading that you betrayed your unconscious.
That to many people, I think, is very threatening.
But this is why so many people say that Ayn Rand is for 14 year old boys.
You grow out of it.
And there’s a reason why it appeals to 14 as a little young, but 16, 18.
It’s because those are the ages where we’re still open to idealism.
In a positive sense, to beautiful things, to ideals, to seeking perfection, to seeking
a great life.
I think as you grow older, most people become cynical.
They give up on their ideals.
Because their ideals were wrong and their ideals failed.
My parents were socialists when they were young.
Those ideas failed.
So where do you go from socialism if your ideals fail?
Which is horrible.
All adults, almost all adults out there are cynical.
And that is failed idealism.
When they look at the young people, they see their idealism, oh, well, I was idealistic
And they don’t question the idea, well, they’re good ideals and they’re bad ideals, they’re
right ideals and they’re wrong ideals.
And that’s why they attribute it to youth.
So it’s a threat to a lot of people, a lot of people who it’s too late for.
For some people, it’s too late to change their minds.
And they know it.
And they’re too invested in the job, in the wife, in the compromises.
In the comfort.
And they’re too invested in the comfort.
Too invested in a compromise, too invested in a comfort.
And they know that they shouldn’t be.
They know they should change.
And these young people are challenging that.
And that is really, really scary for them.
And that’s why they reject it without too much consideration.
One of the things Rand, the working title for Fountainhead was Secondhand Lives.
And Rand had two definitions of selfishness in that book.
One is selfishness in the sense of my life is the most important thing.
It’s not the only important thing.
My family would be number two friends.
They certainly are extremely high values, but you can’t have these secondary values
without the first value.
But in the context of my life, right?
Because your family might not be a value, right?
You might hate your parents.
The point being selfishness.
Then there’s the other kind of selfishness, which is Peter Keating, one of the villains
of the book, which is he’s selfish in that he’s greedy.
He’s looking out for number one, but he has no values.
He has no sense of character.
He just wants to be wealthy.
He wants to have a beautiful wife.
He wants to have a big house.
He couldn’t tell you because other people have it and he wants to have it more than
His sense of reference is other people.
He’s living secondhand.
The problem with that is a lot of young people read Rand and when they start arguing online,
they just start trying to talk like Rand.
Whereas Rand would be like, be original, be an innovator.
If you want to argue for objectivism in Rand’s views, take her ideas, articulate them in
your own way.
That’s a good way of showing that you understand what she thinks, but what they end up doing
is just talking like her.
It sounds dated and comical and that’s going to be off putting because it’s like Rand wouldn’t
expect someone else to sound like Rand.
She’s her own person.
She of course wouldn’t view Keating as selfish in any sense because, or even greedy, greed
is a tricky word.
Well, he was selfish in the old school sense.
Yeah, he’s selfish in the old, but even there, it’s not as if he has some passion and he’s
going after passion no matter what, I’m going to light, cheat, steal.
His passion is painting and he doesn’t pursue his passion.
He pursues what his mother wants him to pursue and he pursues money and he’s completely second
handed in the sense that he follows other people’s values, not his own.
Can we actually just backtrack and can we define some of these ideas that Ayn Rand
is known for of selfishness, selfishness, egoism, egotism, greed?
Those all, basically all of those words are seen as negative in society and Ayn Rand has
been reclaiming in her work those words.
So can you speak to what they mean?
I think she’s trying to, and Yaron might disagree, I think she’s trying to be needlessly provocative
and it’s off putting and on one hand, maybe you want to be a provocateur because that
gives you people like, what does this woman mean?
On the other hand, many people are going to be viscerally put off.
When Ayn Rand was on Donahue in 1979, he asked her explicitly, define to me the virtue of
selfishness, which is the title of her collection of essays as well.
And she, this is Rand, immediately says, use a different word, self esteem.
And it’s like, yeah, it’s like, why are you championing this word, which has extremely
Whereas if you just say, and this is thanks to her and her work, my life matters, my values
matter, I’m not going to apologize for that.
That is a lot less off putting than this caricature of Rand, which is I’m for, when people hear
I’m for selfishness, they hear, oh, someone’s bleeding out in the corner, but I want to
get a Coke.
She condemned that.
She says, I’m against this kind of sociopathy.
That’s absolutely crazy.
But that word selfishness.
If it goes a mistake to be provocative in this one dimension, to go and to stick with
I mean, she’s stuck with this idea of selfishness and so on.
She’s stuck with this term and it’s, I often use terms for provocative effect.
Yes, this is true.
You’re a master, you’re a scholar of the trolling arts.
Thank you, sir.
But I think this is one example where the costs outweigh the benefits.
And go ahead, Yaron.
Yes, I’m open to that idea, but I don’t think that’s right.
When you actually dig deeper into what people object to, they’re not objecting to the word.
They’re objecting to the ideas.
And she addresses this explicitly in The Virtue of Selfishness in the, I think, the introduction.
Wait, hold on.
I got to ask for clarification.
You’re saying they’re objecting to the ideas, but when they talk about her, they’re not
talking about her actual ideas.
They’re talking about the caricature.
But the caricature is a defense mechanism not to have to deal with the ideas, right?
So they create the caricature in order to ignore the ideas and some of them do it consciously.
Like when people like Krugman and others do this, they know exactly what they’re doing.
But Krugman is Ellsworth Tewi.
Yes, he’s the perfect Ellsworth Tewi.
And he knows Ayn Rand.
He’s read Ayn Rand.
And he knows she’s the enemy in some sense.
Check out our episode with Krugman.
I think it’s number 90.
It was a great conversation.
Didn’t get as many views as me, but what are you going to do?
Well, he got a Nobel Prize, so what you got?
I’ve got a ticket to heaven.
Yasser Alford has a Nobel Prize.
And Hitler was a Times Man of the Year for a few times.
That really bothers me when people bring that up.
Are you really…
Yeah, Time of the Year…
It’s called a joke, Michael.
It’s not good.
Man of the Year is not representative of good.
It represents the most influential person of that year, and Hitler was.
Wait, what were you upset about?
When people like, well, look at Time Magazine.
They called Hitler Man of the Year.
They were on set.
This guy’s awesome.
They said this is the guy who moved the world the most.
It’s not like he was Stalin.
I don’t go out there.
Now, that’s who they like.
The Stalin guy.
Oh, no, no.
I’m not even joking.
The attitude of people between Nazism and fascism and communism is stunning.
In my upcoming book, I have all the receipts how the things that they were saying about
Stalin at the time are, if you look back, it’s unconscionable, and these people have
had no accountability in the positive direction.
That’s not even at the time, and we need to get back to the selfishness stuff, but it’s
not even at the time.
I think I’ve told this story.
I was in the green room going on John Stossel’s show, and I saw a bunch of libertarians in
the green room all hanging out, and this guy walks in, this young guy walks in, and somebody
says to me, he’s a communist.
I said, what do you mean?
They said, no, no, he’s a card carrying member of the Communist Party.
He’s a communist.
I said, and that’s okay with you guys?
They go, yeah, yeah, he’s a nice guy.
I’m like, no, this is not acceptable.
Let me quote Rand.
Rand said she would rather talk to a philosophical Marxist, right?
Did she not say this?
Yeah, but this is a communist in the context of 21st century, right?
So I said…
But not 20th.
Well, in the sense that we know exactly what, we know exactly.
Yeah, yeah, that’s…
And this guy has the blood of 100 million people on his hands.
I’m not letting him off the hook.
So I engage with this guy, and literally we get into this… I’m telling him what I think
of his ideas, and therefore what I think of him, and the people from the wardrobe department
come out, and their chairs are put aside in this little gladiator ring.
It’s like the libertarians are sitting there amused, because to them it’s just… I’m
not going to name names, but to them it’s just like, yeah, he’s a communist, and I said
at some point to them… I won’t name names, because… I said at some point to them,
if somebody walks into a room and says, I’m a Nazi, do you just treat him as, okay, let’s
go hang out and get some drinks?
Because I wrote a book about this, the new write, and I did talk to Nazis, and I went
to North Korea to talk to them.
Yeah, because you were writing a book.
But you’re not going to hang out with a Nazi or a communist just like the regular person,
To me, a Nazi and a communist are the same.
I don’t under… Okay, please explain this, because first of all, any time you have a
lot of equivocation, I hate that, because I don’t like equality.
I think it’s a bad concept.
We’re all sitting here as Jewish people, right?
We’re from the Soviet Union.
To say these two things are basically the same, it’s a matter of life and death for
all of us.
We’d be dead under Hitler.
We’re not doing so hot under Stalin, but we’re still alive.
There’s some very big difference.
One more thing.
So within the context, they’re different, right?
Hold on, one more thing.
There’s also one very big difference in that one has a lot worse of a brand name, and the
other does not, even though the other should.
It’s a brand.
Yeah, so I agree.
So there’s a context in which I would fear Stalin more than Hitler.
There’s a different context in which I would fear Hitler, but as ideologies, they are equally
Wait, wait, but…
Not the same, because the difference is between communism and fascism, but as ideologies,
they’re equally evil.
They both view the individual as insignificant, unimportant, and they both basically want
to kill any independent minded…
Well, you’re equating communism with Stalinism, so you’re equating…
No, I’m equating communism… I don’t know what Stalinism is.
I don’t care.
Stalinism is one version of communism, I’m sure there are others.
Communism is an evil ideology, no matter who practices it.
I don’t think that’s… I think that’s too loose, because here’s one example.
The first person who went to the Soviet Union from the left and denounced it was Emma Goldman.
She was an anarcho communist, right?
So she went there, she got deported from the United States.
She went to Lenin to his face.
Hold on, let me finish.
You’re already dismissing what I’m saying.
Your body language, your emotions.
History doesn’t carry your feelings either.
She goes to Lenin, she goes, we’re supposed to be about free speech.
We’re supposed to be about the individual freedom.
What are you doing?
And he goes, free speech is a bourgeois extravagance.
You can’t have it during a revolution, too bad.
She comes back to the West.
Wait, he’s right?
Oh no, yeah, of course.
She’s more consistent with the idea.
Yeah, he’s more consistent.
She’s a compromise.
Yeah, you’re right.
Well, she comes back to the West, the big red Emma, the big hero of the left.
And she goes, you guys, this is a complete, not, she didn’t say bad.
She was very random.
She goes, this is pure evil.
This is horrifying.
What they’re doing to the workers, which you supposedly care about, completely oppressing.
And when one person described, they go, when she got up to talk, it was a standing ovation.
And when she was finished, you could hear a pin drop because she wasn’t some capitalist.
She wasn’t some bourgeois conservative.
She was as hard left for violent revolution as it gets.
And so I don’t think she, as a communist, is an evil person.
I think she is.
Because if she wasn’t evading, and with Rand, and I think in reality, the essence of evil
is evasion, is ignoring the facts of reality, is putting your feelings ahead of your facts.
She would realize that what was going on in the Soviet Union was the inevitable consequence
of her ideas.
That could be just she’s dumb.
So she could have changed her mind.
She could have, coming back to the Soviet Union, said, these ideas are wrong.
I now repudiate my ideas, not just of implementation, but my ideas.
And then I would have said, yeah, she had been mistaken before, and now she’s confronted
But if she stayed a leftist, if she stayed a leftist to that extent, not just a mild leftist,
then I think she’s dishonest and therefore immoral.
But you’re using three words identically.
You’re saying dishonest, immoral, and evil.
And I’m –
So evil is more – is an extreme form of immorality, right?
So she’s immoral.
The ideology she holds is still evil because the ideology –
Maybe she’s delusional.
She might be delusional.
But delusional and evil are the same.
But she can be delusional.
She cannot be delusional.
See, I’m willing to accept a delusion before she’s gone to the Soviet Union and seen it.
Once she’s gone to see it, I don’t think that excuse holds anymore.
I think now she’s being confronted and she’s lying to herself about the implications of
Logically, it’s inevitable that what happens in the Soviet Union has to happen in any communist
So to play a little bit of a devil’s advocate here, is it logically inevitable?
Is it – can you imagine that there is communist systems where the consequences we’ve seen
in the 20th century are not the consequences we get?
In future societies, under different conditions, under different – with the internet, different
communication schemes, different set of resources.
As long as human beings are what we are.
Now the Borg – you remember the Borg from Star Trek or whatever the series was?
I mean –
I’m a nerd.
The Borg –
It’s the highest of compliments.
The Borg –
In this household.
The Borg is the highest of lex.
Now we’re talking.
The Borg is communist, right?
The Borg is a different species.
It has a different biology.
It has a business – different form of consciousness.
Now whether such a being could survive evolution is a question.
Whether such a –
People are ants.
They don’t have to be intelligent.
Yeah, but then the question is can you have free will, human cognitive cognition and be
I don’t think so.
Maybe in another planet.
But human beings –
You’ve got to take DMT to meet the Borg.
So human beings – no, communism is anti – the reason communism is evil is it’s
anti reality, anti human nature, anti the individual, and therefore it is inherently
It cannot result in anything good coming out of it.
Only bad can come of it.
Do you think you could have predicted that before the 20th century?
Yes, and plenty of people did.
It’s not –
You know who did?
Mikhail Bakunin, who was an early communist Marxist rival in 18 – this is going to be
in my upcoming book – in 1860, he sat down and wrote an essay, he goes, what Marx is
advocating is insane.
This is going to be worse than the czar.
You’re talking about complete totalitarian nightmare.
When you put this into practice, it’s going to be something we’ve never seen before.
It’s a pure horror.
Like, he was a hardcore leftist.
Look, Marx predicted it, right?
We talked about this.
Yeah, that’s true too.
Marx at some point says certain people cannot be part of the proletariat and they have to
So this idea of mass murder and mass killing is not new to communism, it is an inherent
part of what it means.
You’re either proletarian or you’re not.
And you’re – look, and in Marx, it’s in Marx, right?
The individual doesn’t matter.
Now he might matter in his utopia because he knows he’s got a marketing problem.
See, Marx has a marketing problem because of the fact that you have individuals.
How do you convince individuals to give up their individualism, to give up the individuality?
What you say is, well, we have to go through this difficult process.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We have to get to this utopia.
And in this utopia, I mean, he’s very Christian.
I mean, this is the other thing about Marx.
About the end time.
Marx is very Christian in everything, in his morality, in his collectivism, and in the
The end times for Marx is going back to the Garden of Eden.
The end time for Marx is you don’t have to do anything.
Food is just available.
Wealth is just available.
You can do your hobbies.
You can do everything.
You can do whatever you want, whatever feelings, whatever.
So it’s going back to a Garden of Eden perspective on human.
So he knows what that is going to require.
It’s going to require this dictatorship of the proletarian to get there.
And he never tells you how we get there.
There’s no game plan.
There’s a dictatorship, then there’s utopia.
It’s like the underpants.
Step one, dictatorship.
Step two, question mark.
Step three, utopia.
And the question mark is where the action is, right?
Yeah, you yada yada the important part.
And people buy this garbage, right?
So there’s nothing of value in Marx.
I mean, let me be very clear.
He gets capitalism wrong.
He gets the proletarian wrong.
He gets the workers wrong.
He gets the labor theory of value is wrong.
There is nothing of value.
There’s nothing of value in communism.
It is a wrong, unfitted to human nature ideology from beginning to end.
The clarity with which you speak is just not something I, I don’t think I have that clarity
But I mean, it has to do with that thing that where everybody has something to teach you.
I just feel like I’ve been reading Mein Kampf recently, for example, for the first time.
Something to learn from Hitler?
Well, there’s a lot to learn from Hitler.
About the nature of evil, about wrong ideas, not about anything good, not about anything
Oh, so yeah.
So that’s probably a really bad example.
Why is Hitler different than Marx?
That’s a very good question.
No, I get that.
But in terms of ideas, why is Hitler different than Marx?
Why do we have to assume there’s something to learn from Marx, but there’s nothing, but
we acknowledge that there’s nothing positive to learn from Hitler.
Because I mean, all right.
I can tell you something, in the sense that like, there’s an interesting question is,
how did this person get from step A to being able to implement the ideas?
I know, everybody should read, anybody who’s interested should read Marx, because it’s
It’s important in the history and a lot of people were influenced by it.
Why was it influential?
What is it that he says that appeals to people?
I find it interesting to see all the parallels with Christianity.
I think that’s why to a large extent it appeals to people because they got to give up the
unimportant part of religion and got to keep the fun parts of religion, the important parts
to them of religion, the morality, for example.
But no, there’s not something positive to learn from everybody.
In Ayn Rand’s view, in your view, who was worse, Stalin or Hitler?
I think worse is, this is something that I’ll do a Randian sin and be evasive.
It really drives me crazy when people sit down and have these competitions about like,
if someone who’s Jewish brings up the Holocaust and someone who’s African American brings
up slavery, and this is a conversation that I think is pointless and very hurtful and
harmful and it is really silly and ridiculous.
So it might make sense in some kind of stoner context about like you’re doing the math and
trying to figure out, but it’s like, and yeah, you could be like, what would you rather have
like this kind of cancer or full blown AIDS?
In short, I mean, there’s gotta be life expectancy, but these are such, I’ll evade your question,
I think we understand, and a lot of this is a function of the propaganda at the time,
and I’m not using the word propaganda in a negative sense, the horrors of Hitler and
I think, and one of the things I’m trying to solve with my upcoming book, there is a
very poor understanding about the horrors of Stalinism and what that meant in practice.
One of the reasons I wrote Dear Reader, my North Korea book, and what I was shocked and
delighted by when I started writing Dear Reader, I thought to myself, look, I have very little
capacity to affect change, but I can tell stories.
I can write books.
This is my competency.
If I move the needle in America, we got it pretty good here.
If I move the needle in North Korea, this could have really profound positive consequences.
I set a very limited goal, and that goal is to change the conversation about North Korea,
to stop it being regarded as a laughing stock and start regarding it as an existential horror.
The metaphor I use always, and we brought up earlier, was the Joker, because people
look at Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il, his father, they look at a clown disguised as a buffoon,
and that’s valid, and I said, this is what I can do.
I can move that camera a little bit, and now that camera, instead of looking at Kim Jong
Un, Kim Jong Il, you see behind him literally millions of corpses, and when you see people
putting on these performances in these shows, look at these fools, then you’re like, everyone
those people, their kid has a gun to their head right now.
If someone puts a gun to your kid’s head, you’re going to put on clown makeup?
Yeah, you are.
Put on the shoes, whatever you want.
So in terms of, people do not appreciate the horrors of Stalinism.
I think this is a big fault of the right wing.
You can’t expect necessarily the New York Times to do this because of the blood on their
hands, and for a long time, I was berating conservatives, I go, this was the big right
wing victory, bloodless largely, the victory of the Soviet Union.
No one’s talking about it, no one’s informing, and let’s be clear, there are very many people
who are Democrats who are on the left, who are violently opposed, literally violently
opposed to the Soviet Union, it’s horrors, this is not necessarily a partisan issue.
And I’m like, all right, I’m going to do something about it.
So I know that’s not really literally your question, but you know, that’s kind of information
that feeds us.
Let me ask you that question if it’s okay.
So what, which do we, can we learn more from, from a historical perspective looking forward?
From like, which has more lessons in, in how to avoid it, how to, and just general lessons
about human nature.
Well, I mean, I agree with Michael that it’s not important who’s more evil because they’re
both evil and they’re both just so evil that the differences don’t matter.
What matters is what is the ideology?
What is the, what is, what are the consequences?
What do we understand from it?
What are we worried about?
What are we going to avoid?
So I’m not worried about Nazism qua Nazism because everybody hates Nazism.
I mean, it’s uniform that that’s out.
Even the people I think on the far right in America are staying away from the cliches
of Nazism, although some of them are stupid enough not to.
But, but in the end, if, if, if the United States goes authoritarian right, it’s not
going to be Nazism.
It’d be some other form of fascism because that is so obviously, you know, being understood
as evil and bad that there’s almost no understanding that the evil of communism, I mean, you brought
it up earlier, right?
Almost nobody understands that communism is an evil ideology, that there’s, that there’s
nothing worthwhile there, that any, any attempt to go in that direction in any sustainable
way is destructive.
They are, as you mentioned, they’re economists out there claiming they are communists.
I mean, I find that despicable that anybody would claim to be a communist economist or
communist anything, because I think that’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a ideology that has
no basis, but we haven’t learned that.
So to me, communism is the much bigger threat because we still think it’s some kind of beautiful
ideal in, in the world around us.
I think Nazism is out, but I think, I think fascism is a, is a massive threat out there
because I don’t think we’ve learned real lessons of, nobody knows what fascism is.
Everybody thinks fascism is Nazism.
They don’t, they don’t recognize that in a sense we are already fascist and that we’re
certainly heading in that direction.
So they don’t know what it is.
And again, we haven’t studied, and the real lesson here is we haven’t studied what unifies
them both because there’s not a big difference between fascism and communism.
There’s no big difference between Nazism and communism.
What does unify them?
What unifies them is the common good, the public interest.
What unifies them is this idea that there is some elite group of people who can run
our lives for us, for the common good, for the public interest.
And that you don’t matter.
You as an individual, you individual don’t matter and they, they will dictate how you
And you know, so these are philosopher kings.
It goes back to Plato’s philosophy, but it really unifies it.
Think about communism, communism is about the sacrifice of the individual to the proletarian.
Who is the proletarian?
It’s this collective group here.
Who represents a proletarian?
Well they have, somebody has to, somebody has to tell the proletarian what they believe
in because they don’t know, because there is no collective consciousness.
So you need a Stalin and this is the point about Marxism.
Marxism needs a dictator because somebody has to represent the values, the public interest,
what’s good for the public.
Nazism needs the same thing.
Just Nazism replace proletarian with Aryans, the Aryan race.
And you have exactly the same thing.
You need a dictator to tell us what’s good for the Aryan people so we can do what’s good
for the Aryan people.
So it’s impossible to have a communist system or a fascist system without a dictator naturally
It’s not, it’s not possible to have a George.
It’s not naturally, it’s ideologically.
It’s absolutely impossible to have that on scale.
You can certainly have communes where people behave communistically.
Because it’s not inside the ideology.
Let me talk about fascism because fascism definitionally is going to have a strong man.
I don’t even know how it could be fascism without that.
And let’s talk, what you said earlier on is about how people don’t know what fascism is.
Fascists don’t know what fascism is.
So there’s a superb book by John Diggins from the early seventies called Mussolini and Fascism,
the view from America.
So I find Mussolini to be a far more interesting figure than Hitler because he had a much more
He was much more of an innovator.
He was an intellectual.
Which is shocking because he always comes across as a buffoon, but he was actually a
Why did he not resist Hitler at all?
So one of the things with fascism is it comes, it’s a direct line from Kant to Mussolini.
So basically there is a philosopher who I adore, who I’m sure you don’t, called Schopenhauer.
And Schopenhauer, the question became, Rand was not a particularly humorous person.
She had some moments of wit.
There’s a great moment when she was on Tom Snyder show in 1980, I believe, and she’s
talking about Kant and she goes, Immanuel Kant and all his illegitimate children, if
you catch my meaning, she mean all his bastards.
But the host Tom Snyder did not pick up on it.
If you watch it on YouTube, you could pick up on it.
And what happened was once Kant bifurcated reality into the phenomenal world, the pure
idea world and the numeral world, the question became, well, what is the nature of this world
And Hegel had it meant reason.
I don’t know even know what that means theoretically, that the world of reason is idea and this
is Schopenhauer who hated Hegel, who constantly attacked him by name and Hegel’s followers
in his work.
He was a very big innovator in a malevolent way because he said the nature of reality,
this idea is will, meaning the universe doesn’t care about you and it’s constantly in this
reality putting urges in your mind, values.
And when you denounce these values and urges, that’s the basis of morality.
And from there it went to Nietzsche and the will isn’t mindless, it is a will to power.
Mussolini took this and basically said, because the will to power is the real reality, the
Kantian idea, therefore all of this is secondary.
So if we will it, we can make it happen.
When you have this concept of my willpower is stronger than reality and you’re like,
okay, how’s this program going to work?
We can make it happen.
That was why fascism is not a very coherent ideology because explicitly, there’s a book
called from 1936 called The Philosophy of Fascism, which tried to codify this, 36, this
is a long time ago, where they’re like, we’re against reason and explicitly rationality.
We are for willpower, for strength, and if you are strong enough and united enough, you
can force these things to work.
So there’s a lot that is not taught about this ideology.
I highly recommend people read the books from the time.
And what was fascinating about Mussolini is he was regarded as the moderate.
Because the 1930s, you had the Great Depression, all the intellectuals said, this proves capitalism
can’t work, the Great Depression, obviously, air quotes, is capitalism’s fault.
Then you have the alternative, the USSR.
Well, that’s not tenable for us.
Here comes Mussolini and Mussolini says, I’m going to take the best of both worlds.
I have aspects of markets, capitalism, but I don’t have this chaos, but I also don’t
have complete government control of the bureaucrats.
I’m going to have this combination.
And there was a Broadway song, You’re the Top, you’re Mussolini.
That was later edited out because that’s when he took a bad turn.
But this is kind of the fascist idea.
And it’s about power and it’s about control.
That’s the essence.
It’s about will.
So they don’t care.
Fascists don’t care who owns stuff, owns in quotes, because what’s important is who controls
So you can own your home, but if I get to tell you when you can sell it, for how much
you can sell it and what you can do on that home, then I’m in control of it.
That’s the essence of fascism.
And if you think about it, we live today in a much more fascist economic context than
We pretend that corporations are private, but when everything they do is regulated,
who they can hire, how much they pay them, when and how they can fire them, what they
can do in their property, it’s all control.
That’s the way fascists start controlling everything.
But it’s not possible to have checks on power and balance of power at the top of fascism
or communist systems.
The question was whether in fascist systems or communist systems, we’re saying the dictator
naturally or must emerge.
I don’t say emerge, the dictator is the one who makes the fascist system.
Yeah, fascism, well, it could emerge because for example, I think today in America we’re
moving much more towards fascism or socialism, and at some point that’ll manifest itself
in some kind of dictator.
And the dictator might be different than a Mussolini or Nazis, it might be couched in
some kind of pseudo constitutional American presence.
It would be a lot easier for a female to be a fascist dictator in America than a male,
because do you have that softness?
She’s not gonna come off as a strong woman, people won’t see it coming, in my opinion.
I think it’s gonna be a nationalist, religionist, environmentalist, I think somebody who can
combine those three.
Well, Hitler did those, yeah.
And somebody who can combine those three and articulate the case for it, I think America
is ready for it.
So you think it’s possible for fascism to arise in the world again?
Oh, of course, it had never went away, they just adopt the name.
Because the fundamental ideas, the Kantian ideas, the ideas that are behind fascism never
They’re still as popular, if anything, more popular than they were back then, Marx is
I think these ideas are prevalent, they’re out there, and absolutely, I think America
is ready for them.
Again, it won’t be quite in the form that we’ve experienced in the past, it’ll be in
a uniquely American form, couched at a flag, and of course, it was couched at a flag before.
But no, yes, an authoritarian, some form of authoritarianism is necessary, because the
fundamental principle behind both communism and fascism is the unimportance of the individual.
The individual is nothing, the individual is a nobody, and the importance of the collective.
The collective will, the collective soul, the collective consciousness, but the collective
has no will, has no soul, has no consciousness.
So somebody has to emerge to speak for the collective, otherwise, everything falls apart.
So it’s necessary, whether it’s a committee or whether it’s one person, how exactly, somebody
has to speak for the collective.
Even a committee doesn’t function as a committee, right?
Most committees, particularly when the committee is about dictating how people should live,
somebody is going to, because now it becomes really, really important, somebody is going
to dominate that committee and rule over it, because you don’t want independent sources,
independent voices, because the individual doesn’t matter, the individual doesn’t count.
It’s a natural hierarchical, so you have seven people that ostensibly have the same role,
someone is going to emerge as a leader naturally, and some people are going to follow.
Yeah, it’s the same reason you cannot have the Richard Wolff type socialism of, and this
is the more, if you will, innocent part of his ideas.
Oh, why can’t we have corporations all be worker owned, and everybody votes on everything,
and we vote on who should be CEO, and no, communism, fascism, most ideas necessitate
ultimately authoritarians, and that’s most of human history.
We forget again.
This idea of liberty, this idea of freedom, even the limited freedom we have today.
It’s a recent invention.
It happens in little pockets throughout history.
We had a little bit of this democracy stuff, partial, only a few, some people got to vote
and it wasn’t rights respecting, because they didn’t have the concept of rights in Athens,
You had it in a few Greek cities.
We maybe had a version of it in Venice, we had a version of it in city states around
the world, but then it was invented by the founding fathers in this country.
That’s what makes the founding of America so important, and so different, and such a
radical thing to have happened historically.
Freedom is rare.
Authoritarianism is common.
So I was looking at some statistics that 53% of people in the world live under authoritarian
Oh, because India is democratic, so I guess they don’t count India, but yes, it used to
How do we change that?
And even the authoritarianism in a country like China is a lot less than it used to be
under Mao, right?
So they were better off than they were under Mao.
That’s a reality.
How do we change it?
We have to declare, we have to change the ethical views of people.
This brings us back to selfishness, because as long as the standard of morality is the
group, others, as long as the standard of value is what other people want, what other
people think, as long as you are alive only to be sacrificed to the group, that’s why
you have to challenge Christianity.
As long as the Jesus on a cross dying for other people’s sin is viewed as this noble,
wonderful act instead of one of the most unjust things to ever happen to anybody, as long
as the common good and the public interest are the standards by which we evaluate things,
we will always drift towards fascism, some form of authoritarianism.
Can I answer your question?
I think there’s something that has to go along with what Yaron was saying, and I know he’s
going to agree with me, which is technology.
Because if it becomes harder technologically for the authoritarian and more expensive for
him to input or force his edicts, that is going to create a pocket of freedom regardless
of what the masses think.
And the masses, hold on let me finish, the masses as a rule are not going to be able
to think in general anyway.
I have a much more elitist view of mankind than Rand does.
And let me give you one specific example, which I mentioned in my book that you write.
Let’s suppose it’s 1990, not that long ago, we all remember 1990.
And we’re having an argument about censorship.
And Yaron says, I want full freedom of the press, freedom of books, publish whatever
you want, whatever, free speech.
And I say, well, what about books like Mein Kampf?
What about, you know, people read this the wrong idea?
What about child pornography, things like this?
Like, where are you going to draw the line?
And we could argue along, Lex appears from the future, and he goes, hey, guys, this conversation
And we’re like, Lex, you look exactly the same.
I’m like, yeah, of course, Robo Stone Age.
And you go, I’m from the future.
And I go, wait a minute, black president?
And you go, look, this conversation is moot, because in a few years from now, you will
be able to send any book anywhere on earth at the speed of light.
You can make infinite copies in one second.
And you could send it to anyone such that they can only open this book if they know
a magic word.
And I go, well, how much is this going to cost?
Oh, it’s free.
And I go, wait, wait, you’re telling me I can make infinite copies of any book and teleport
them at the speed of light anywhere for free?
And you would say, yes, we would think he’s insane.
But that’s the status quo, right?
So technology has done far more to fight government censorship of literature and ideas than has
spreading the right ideas.
So when you have things like crypto, which makes money less accessible than a gold block
in your house, when you have things like people being able to travel quickly, those are also
necessary compliments to having the right ideas.
And Rand herself said that she couldn’t have come up with her philosophy before the Industrial
So as time goes forward and we have more technology and we have more discourse.
But for very different reasons, she said that, right?
But it’s also a lot easier to persuade people the right ideas.
So I kind of agree.
Maybe I’m more pessimistic or maybe I don’t get the technology completely.
That’s because you’re a boomer.
There you go.
I get that insult a lot.
I think I’m the last year of the boomer generation.
It’s a mindset.
I think I hit that last.
It’s a mindset.
There you go.
I love you so much.
So the reason she said she couldn’t have developed her, the reason she said she couldn’t develop
the philosophy without the Industrial Revolution is the link between reason and wealth was not
obvious before the Industrial Revolution.
And that, for example, it’s not obvious to Aristotle.
Aristotle doesn’t see the link between rationality and wealth creation.
Business is low.
And money is barren, interest has no productive function, bankers don’t have.
So you had to see it existentially to be able to see reason is the source of wealth creation.
So I think that’s a little different.
Now, there is a sense in which, yes, technology makes it more difficult for authoritarians
to achieve their authoritarianism.
I’m not convinced that they can’t.
I didn’t say can’t.
At a certain point, because they can turn off the electricity.
I’m just saying it becomes more expensive.
It becomes more expensive, no question.
It becomes more expensive.
And we’re still beings that live in a physical reality, therefore, they can still harm us
in this physical reality.
But let me say this, it’s going to sound as absurd.
If there was technology that we could teleport anywhere on Earth at the speed of light, that
would certainly go a long way towards hurting authoritarianism.
If there was some way to go, and of course, they could teleport too.
And this is, of course, the danger of they can use the technology too, and look at what
the Chinese are doing with social scores and with monitoring people and cameras everywhere.
So there’s a sense in which you probably had more privacy before some of this technology.
So it’s not obvious to me.
So to me, it’s all about ideas.
And if we don’t get the ideas right, technology will be used for evil, yes, and it will allow
some of us maybe to escape for a little while in some realms, but others not.
You know, Iran and North Korea do a pretty good job shutting themselves away from technology,
although a lot gets through in the Iranian, at least with Iran.
I don’t know about North Korea, how much gets through.
It’s really undermining them, which is wonderful.
Yeah, which is great.
So yes, but it’s more than that.
And this is what leads me to be optimistic.
It’s that we live in a world today where 7 billion people basically have access to all
of human knowledge, all of human knowledge.
It’s not like in Rome.
When Rome fell, all of human knowledge disappeared.
Now some of it escaped to Byzantine, some of the Byzantines had and ultimately land
up with the Arabs and found its way back into Western civilization through them.
But a lot of knowledge disappeared, just wiped out, right?
How to build a dome, how to build a big dome, how to have…
You know, in Pompeii, they had faucets, running water and faucets.
They didn’t have faucets for another thousand years, right?
A lot of…
They couldn’t build tall buildings once Rome came down.
The Great Pyramid of Egypt was the tallest building on earth till like 1840, it was crazy.
Rome was a city of a million people.
Other than China, there wasn’t another city of a million people in the West until London
in the 19th century, 1500 years later.
So it all disappeared because all of it was concentrated basically in one place.
Today none of that exists because of the internet, because of universities everywhere, institutions.
I mean, think about how many engineers there are in the world today, right?
Who have basically all different…
Basically the same level of knowledge on how to build stuff.
So even if the United States went to some kind of dark ages, it’s unlikely the whole
world goes into that kind of dark ages.
So I am optimistic in that sense that the fusion of knowledge is so broad today that
other than wiping out all electricity on the planet, everything electronic on the planet,
it’s just, it’s not going to be possible to control us all.
And in that sense, technology is going to make it possible for us to survive and to
stay semi free, because I don’t think full freedom, but semi free.
Because full freedom, you need the ideas.
Because full freedom means you need some political implementation.
No, full freedom means anarchy, but we know that.
So we need to get into that because we can’t leave without pointing out that we fundamentally
disagree about that.
Oh, that’s beautiful to be continued on that one.
Let me ask about one particular technology that I’ve been learning a lot about, thinking
a lot about, talking about, which is Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general, but Bitcoin
specifically, which a lot of people argue that the Bitcoin, that setting ideas aside,
when you look at practical tools that governments use to manipulate its people is inflation
of the monetary system, within the monetary system.
And so they see Bitcoin as a way for the, for individuals to fight that, to go outside
those specific government control systems and thereby sort of decentralizing power.
You know, there’s a case to be made historically of the 20th century that you couldn’t have
Stalin, you couldn’t have Hitler, you couldn’t have much of the evil that you see in the
world if they couldn’t control the monetary system.
You couldn’t have had the New Deal.
And FDR realized this very quickly.
That’s why they confiscated all the gold.
Everybody knows FDR is going to come in to become president and confiscate the gold.
So one of the mythologies, the myths about the Great Depression is that there were all
these bank runs that, well, bank runs happened because everybody was afraid that FDR would
get elected to confiscate the gold.
So everybody ran to the bank and took the gold.
Little did they realize that he would confiscate their private holdings in their own backyards.
He would force them to dig up the gold from their own backyards.
But yes, one of the first things FDR did in spite of denying it throughout the campaign,
right, he was asked about this over and over again and denied it.
One of the first things was take over the gold and take the United States Federal Reserve
off the gold standard so that they can, in a sense, print money and that he could start
Yeah, what people don’t realize, just to clarify what Yaron said, is FDR, this is something
that’s so crazy to us that we think, okay, I’m misunderstanding it.
FDR made it illegal for people to own gold unless it’s like a wedding ring.
And before that, contracts, because inflation was a concern, I make a contract with Yaron,
right, I said, okay, you’re either going to pay me in $1,500 for my work or the gold
equivalent because if that $1,500, you know, weimar Germany and you have hyperinflation,
I don’t want that $1,500.
Just give me the gold bullion.
And FDR said all of those clauses, he broke every contract, they don’t matter.
So now if I say, Yaron says, okay, you owe me three feet of drywall.
And I go, here’s three feet of drywall.
It’s 12 inches.
And you go, wait, wait, wait, three feet is 36 inches.
I go, no, no, not anymore.
It’s like, what am I supposed to do?
And because you have, when you print more money, the value of every individual dollar
matters less, it becomes that much harder to plan anything, either in the government
level or in the private level, because if I’m managing outlays, if I’m trying to pay
my workers, I’m trying to build factories, I’m thinking long term, and I don’t know what
this dollar is going to buy in 10 years, that puts an enormous incentive for me to spend
it now and not save it, because if I save it, it’s going to be worth a lot less.
And the worst thing about inflation, and this is something I think people who are pro capitalism
don’t talk about enough, they do talk about it, I would just like to see it more.
This by far hurts the poor, the poorest of the poor the most.
When we came to this country, my mom told me they would go to 86th street in Bensonhurst
with the fruit stands to buy Mika Chika, some grapes.
And you go to this fruit stand, and she’d walk all the way to the other corner.
And if it was three cents more a pound, or less a pound, she’d walk all the way back,
because that three cents mattered.
Now if I have this dollar, and it’s 5% inflation or whatever, and next year it’s 95 cents,
me and you, the three of us might not care, but if I’m destitute hand to mouth, and I’ve
got 5% less, that is really a material consequence of my life.
So inflation really is evil, because it hurts the people for who those pennies matter.
Well, one of the ways the government gets around that, and it’s because they get smart
to that, is they index everything, so they index your social security, they index welfare,
they try to make sure, but that only makes you more dependent on them.
And the people in the modern context that inflation hurts the most are savers, people
trying to save money.
And Fed policy right now is just horrific if you’re a saver, because the Fed, the interest
rates are zero, you get nothing on your saving, and cost of living is going up, maybe not
at a huge level, but it is going up, and yet you can’t even save to keep the value of your
And the government controls, and this has massive perverse effects, because it’s not
just that prices go up, it’s that prices don’t reflect reality anymore.
So some prices go up, some prices might not.
Investments get distorted, things get produced that shouldn’t get produced, and then people
like Richard Wolff turn around and blame all the distortions, and the perversions, and
the crashes, and the financial crisis on capitalism.
Not on the fact that the Fed, look at the financial crisis, financial crisis was caused,
you could argue by inflation, and we could get into that if you wanted, but that’s probably
a three hour show, just that, right?
It was caused by the Federal Reserve, and yet who got blamed for the financial crisis?
Who would Richard Wolff is going to jump up and down?
This is a crisis of capitalism, this was caused by capitalism, but capitalism is the negation
of the Fed.
Capitalism says there should be no Fed.
That’s item number one on the list of the things capitalists want, is to get rid of
the Fed, and then grant you guys your wish, have competition for currency, and let’s see
if Bitcoin wins.
I’m skeptical, but I don’t care.
My point is under freedom.
I don’t care who wins, I just want free choices, and let the best currency win.
I doubt that becomes Bitcoin, but it doesn’t really matter.
If I’m wrong, great.
Let me add to this, and I think people appreciate, and this is a leftist, leftism at its best,
that the government and the banks are in bed with each other.
This I don’t think is a particularly controversial statement.
Well I don’t like that statement, let me just say why I don’t like it.
I don’t like it because it assumes that they’re equal partners, or that there’s causality
goes in both directions.
From day one, and this is really from day one of the establishment of the United States,
banks have been regulated by the state, and the reason for that is primarily Jefferson
and others, founders, distrust of finance.
So from the beginning, banks have been controlled by the state.
Now over time, if I’m controlling you, you won’t have influence over me, because I get
to, so yes, they get into bed over time, so I don’t like it that they’re in bed together.
One is dominating over the other, and the other is participating, because what choice
do they have?
I should explain to you how things work when you get in bed, and it’s not always equal.
Okay, so let’s talk about safe words, which is very Randian topic, she doesn’t like those.
I had to read that scene three times in the Fountainhead, because I couldn’t believe what
I was reading.
I’m sure you did.
No, because I looked at the back cover, I’m like, a woman wrote this book in 1943, I
must be misunderstanding the scene.
And it’s 43.
She sure had a lot of shades of gray.
So, no, she hated that.
She hated that.
Only black and white.
No, but what I meant is, 2008, you have the bailout of Wall Street.
Whereas in 2020, we saw every medium and small business under the sun go under, there’s not
even a pretense that these are going to be bailed out.
So the priorities of the politicians, in my view, are always going to be towards powerful
entities, powerful corporations, and they’re not going to be about the medium guy, the
Let me just finish my point, because I see you champing at the bit.
At the very least, if you have regulation, people influencing each other.
With Bitcoin, and with crypto, that is not a possibility.
You do not have any agency who is king of Bitcoin, who is the Federal Reserve of Bitcoin.
There is no organizing organization or management team.
Now, you could say this is a bad thing, but you can’t say that this is a different thing
to money as opposed to Federal Reserve system.
So I agree with that description of Bitcoin, my problems with Bitcoin, elsewhere.
Let me just say about the financial crisis, I don’t like it phrased that way again.
They let Lehman go under and destroyed Lehman Brothers.
In the past, they destroyed Drexel Burnham because they didn’t like Michael Malkin.
They are vindictive.
It’s not an accident that the Treasury Secretary at the time was an ex chairman of Goldman
Sachs, not Lehman Brothers, and Goldman hates Lehman.
The next day, they bail out AIG.
What I got out of financial crisis more than anything, and by the way, there wasn’t a bailout,
it wasn’t even a bailout, because they gave money to every bank, whether they had problems
And indeed, I know several bankers, including big banks, like JP Morgan and Wes Falgo, and
a friend of mine, John Allison of BB&T, who told them explicitly, we don’t want your money,
we don’t need your money, and they were basically, a gun was put to their head and they said,
you don’t take the money, we’ll shut you down, basically, the equivalent of that.
So they, A, wanted a virtue signal, so there’s a big virtue signal, we’re taking care of
things, don’t worry, we’ve got everything under control, even though they were completely
panicking and they had no clue what they were doing.
One of the things that the financial crisis really illustrated was how pathetic, ignorant,
and incompetent the people at the top are, and they knew it.
And they, you know, Sir Paulson goes to Congress, says, give me $700 billion, don’t tell me
how to use it, because I have no clue, just give it to me and give me your authoritarian
power to do it any way I want.
And that was not out of a sense of grandeur, that was a sense of panic, he had no idea,
he had no clue, none of them did.
They bailed out everybody they could, everybody under their, you know, within their periphery,
when they thought it was appropriate, they were vindictive about some people like Lehman,
it was complete arbitrary use of power.
The bankers didn’t benefit from this, indeed, many bankers that took their money lost from
Bank stocks got crushed after the bailout.
Before the bailout, bank stocks were doing okay, and right after top was announced, bank
stocks crushed because this was bad for banks, it wasn’t good for banks.
This is just central planning gone amok, it’s not them bailing out elites, it’s them, you
know, throwing money at a problem without knowing what they would actually do and what
the consequences would be.
But the point is, sorry, where we agree, the focus will always be on bailing out elites.
But little banks got money too.
No, I was saying that last year, there’s no talk of saving ice and vice, saving Century
21, saving all these other industries.
But sure there were, if you look at it, it’s just, sure there was, if you look at the,
if you look at what the Fed did, the Fed was bailing out third, fourth class businesses
in all kinds of areas that you wouldn’t consider elitist areas, the whole PPP, the way…
You’re talking 2008.
No, I’m talking about now.
I’m talking about COVID last year.
What the Fed did was unbelievable, the kind of bonds that they were buying, even 2008,
even after 2008, I couldn’t believe what they did last year.
PPP, the Payable Protection Program was targeted at everybody, everybody got PPP.
It’s not about…
I don’t think it’s about bailing out elites, it’s about securing their power base.
And if they believe that securing their power base is Wall Street, then they’ll bail out
They believe securing their power base is writing checks to restaurant owners all over
the country, they’ll write checks to restaurant owners all over the country, which is what
they did with PPP.
It’s all about power for them and it’s whatever will achieve power, whatever will result in
I don’t think it’s about elites.
I don’t see elitism in the bailouts of last year.
I agree it wasn’t last year.
I’m saying that’s one distinction between 2008 and 2020.
And I do think, just one more thing, I do think getting in good bed with the elites
is a great mechanism in general for maintaining one’s power.
Yeah, that’s not a dispute.
Depending on how we define it.
Of course, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You mentioned there’s some criticism towards Bitcoin, there’s a lot of excitement about
the technology of Bitcoin for the resistance against this kind of central state pursuit
So that’s part of my criticism because I don’t think it works.
So yeah, I can imagine a world, I can imagine, I’d love to see a technology evolve that where
money is competitive and it’s a financial instrument that the government cannot touch.
You think the state is too powerful?
I think two things.
I think right now, and maybe this won’t be true in the future, right now, I think crypto
It cannot function as money right now.
It just can’t.
But it does.
No, it doesn’t.
It functions as a mechanism.
It functions as a mechanism to transfer, it’s a technology that allows me to transfer fiat
money from place to place, but it doesn’t function, and it can’t because it’s too volatile.
I’ve sold things with Bitcoin.
No, I know you have, but I can sell things.
I can buy things and sell things with my airline model.
So there are lots of ways in which you can use things as money, but it doesn’t make them
If you’re using something as money, it’s money.
So let me take something you said before.
And it contradicts, I think, Bitcoin.
You said one of the things about money is that it’s stable.
I know what it’s gonna buy tomorrow, right?
This is why we’re against inflation, because I know what the dollar today I can plan, because
I can’t plan…
I don’t know what Bitcoin’s gonna be worth tomorrow.
So I can’t plan with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is way too volatile to serve right now as money.
Now, the argument from Bitcoiners is, yes, it’s still being adopted.
At some point, it’ll reach a certain crucial mass.
High perfect monetization, yeah.
Yes, and then it will become money, because at that point, it can be used as money, because
then it’ll have a stable value.
Maybe right now, it’s not useful as money, because I can’t predict what…
I can’t invest in it knowing what the value will be in five years.
Right now, it’s an asset.
It’s not a monetary unit.
It’s much more functions as an asset.
Asset’s value can go up.
Oh, I agree.
It’s functioning much more as an asset than as money.
That’s not in dispute.
I agree with that completely.
So I don’t think it’s money.
But so I think it’s still…
I think it can compete as a money with something tangible.
So I think in a free market, some kind of crypto backed by gold would be more successful.
So Bitcoin folks argue that Bitcoin has all the same fundamental properties that does
So it’s backed by…
There’s a scarcity to it, and it’s backed by proof of work, so it’s backed by physical
And so they say that’s a very natural replacement of gold, so it doesn’t need to be connected
So there are two things that gold has that it doesn’t have.
One is gold is not finite.
Gold supply actually grows over time.
Bitcoin at some point is truly finite.
At least unless you count the fact that you can split bitcoins and create coins, but that’s
a whole other question.
So that’s one.
The other one is that gold has value beyond its use as a currency, beyond its use as money.
For jewelry and stuff.
But you minimize that.
But jewelry and stuff has been important for the human race for 100,000 years.
You can find jewelry in caves, for the cavemen designed jewelry and wore them.
So we obviously as human beings value jewelry a lot.
And almost all jewelry evolved to be made out of gold because whatever it is within
us is attracted to shiny gold in particular, shiny object generally.
So there’s something about gold that appeals to human beings.
There’s some value that gold has beyond its being a currency.
It’s not that Bitcoin doesn’t.
Now it’s not enough to use it as money.
Lots of things appeal to human beings.
But those are two characteristics.
One that it’s not finite and second that it is a value beyond that Bitcoin doesn’t have.
Don’t you think the finiteness could be framed as a feature?
The scarcity of Bitcoin?
No, because I think it creates a real problem with scarcity economically.
It’s the issue of planning.
There is a mechanism, there’s a beautiful mechanism in markets that as the supply of
gold is in a sense the quantity of gold is…
Prices are going down because there’s too little gold, right?
So the value of gold in a sense in dollar terms, the prices are going down.
What happens then is there’s an incentive to then go mine for more gold, right?
Because it becomes cheaper and cheaper to mine as the price goes down.
So you mine for more gold, so it keeps increasing and it keeps increasing basically very correlated
to the rate of increasing productivity.
That’s the beauty of gold mining because prices are related to gold, gold is the dominant
money and it increases at about the same rate as productivity.
So it keeps prices relatively stable.
You still have bouts of inflation and deflation, but it keeps it relatively stable.
With Bitcoin it’s fine at its ends, now prices will only decline.
What rate will they decline at?
They’ll decline at the rate of productivity increases.
It’s hard to predict the rate at which productivity increases.
For example, technological shocks can change that dramatically.
You could get bouts of dramatic deflation, dramatic price drops that could be problematic
in terms of planning the same problem of inflation just reversed that you had before.
So again, it’s a technical issue.
I’m sure there are ways to get around it.
And again, I’m not sure.
I don’t know if you guys consider Bitcoin the end or the beginning, that is, is Bitcoin
it or is Bitcoin just the first example of a technology that’s evolving?
I was just going to say there’s the same technological issue with regard to gold, which is we now
have the technology that was very expensive to turn elements into different elements.
And at a certain, yeah, you could fire electrons at it or whatever.
You can make gold.
They figured out how to do it.
It’s not cheap and it’s called big process.
If gold is the standard, a lot of resources are going to be going toward turning other
things into gold, making the production of gold cheaper.
And that’s going to have a similar consequence that Laurence talked about.
That’s kind of the category of security that Bitcoin has talked about, that it’s very difficult
to do that with Bitcoin.
But I would argue that it’s exceptionally difficult to do that with gold.
It is now.
But the thing is, there’s not huge incentive.
If gold is the basis and if gold is worth that much, gold isn’t worth that much.
Gold is worth, let’s say, I’m saying in this world that we’re talking about, in the future,
gold is not going to be worth, let’s say right now, gold is about 2000 bucks.
It’s less than 2000.
Let’s say it’s 2000 bucks.
That’s its price in terms of dollars.
So you’d have to, it would have to be worthwhile to create something of 2000 dollars.
How much would you be willing to put into it?
At some point, you’re right.
And at that point, I think gold stops being money because it’s useless.
Once I can create it like silicon, then once I can make out official gold.
So I’m just not, I don’t think Bitcoin is the solution.
I think, I don’t know what the solution is.
I wish I was that innovative, but I think you need a solution that has more of the characteristics
of gold than Bitcoin currently has.
And I’m, I guess I’m surprised at a lot of the technologists who view Bitcoin as the
end game, where it strikes me as it’s a, it’s the birth of a new tech, it represents the
birth of a new technology and who the winner in that technology is going to be.
We have no clue.
Bitcoin is one of the players, there are other players.
There might be a new technology that is even better than anything we can imagine right
now that, so Bitcoin doesn’t strike me as optimal.
And that we should be moving towards something better.
Can you please stop shilling randcoin for five minutes?
You know where there was randcoin?
There was rand.
No, I was.
The agri currency is rand.
No, that’s true.
No, I mean.
Ayn Rand is the South African one dollar.
Ayn Rand coin was, I was in China in 20, I think it was 2015 or 14.
I was in China 20, something like that.
And this entrepreneur came up to me, she said she’s bought this massive quantity of land
in this area in China, it’s a little secluded.
She’s starting what she’s calling Gold’s Gulch.
And she’s issuing, and she issued cryptocurrency based on the land, right backed by the land
called rand, but Ayn Rand with a little portrait of Ayn Rand, you know, a little portrait in
I don’t think it went anywhere.
You’re not going to be a janitor?
A janitor in China at Gold’s Gulch.
By the way, I do want to point out something I do enjoy about Objectivist.
I constantly talk about Ayn Rand and her vampire novels and that’s the joke you’re on.
And inevitably someone feels the need to point out that she did not write vampire novels
and her name is actually Ayn.
So thank you.
We’ve been talking for two hours.
I owed her a copy of the Fountainhead.
Somehow I thought her name was Ayn.
I love them.
So this is a really interesting way of phrasing it, which is…
I was kidding with the Ayn.
I know you knew how to pronounce it.
I know you know, you know.
It just got confusing.
I think we all know and we all know that we’re jokers here.
We’re all one.
There’s no Batman in this conversation.
So it’s an interesting way to frame it.
Is Bitcoin the end or the beginning of something?
And I’ve, as sort of with an open mind and seeing kind of all the possibilities of technologies
out there, I also kind of thought that Bitcoin is the beginning of something.
But what the Bitcoin community argues is that Bitcoin is the end of the base layer, meaning
all the different innovations will come on top of it.
Like for example, there’s something called lightning network where it’s basically just
like gold is the end and everything is built like the monetary systems like cash and all
that is built on top of gold.
Bitcoin is the end in that other technologies are built on top of Bitcoin.
That’s their argument.
I get that and I hear that all the time and I just, I don’t quite understand that.
And I think Bitcoin has limitations that potentially other cryptocurrencies might not have.
You know, my attitude towards something like this is to a large extent, I don’t understand
My view is let it play out.
I think I have more fear of physical, the ability of the government to crush these things
than I think many in the community.
So for example, so I gave a talk, Bitcoin, you know, and they were hyping the acceptance
A lot of vendors will accept Bitcoin and this is great.
And I said, yeah, it’s absolutely great.
More options is better than fewer options.
But I said, you know that that could be taken away like that.
Now it’s true that we could exchange Bitcoin and the government wouldn’t know, I think,
wouldn’t know that we do.
But once he’s advertising on his website that he accepts Bitcoin or once he tries to turn
his Bitcoin into particular goods, once you manifest it in the physical world, now the
government can step in.
So the government could say, you can’t sell anything to anybody using Bitcoin.
They can do that and you won’t be able to sell it.
It will have to go into the black market.
But that isn’t able to sell it, just sell it in the black market.
Yeah, but that’s where the government thrives, right?
The government thrives on letting you do stuff in the black market so they can decide when
to put you in jail or not, right?
So if I’m buying a sweatshirt from the government, sorry, if I’m buying a sweatshirt from somebody
using Bitcoin, the government can’t monitor my exchange of Bitcoin to him.
But they can monitor the sweatshirt being sent to me, right?
That’s where they can interfere.
And I think that at some point, to the extent Bitcoin is successful, it will be stopped.
And that’s what will stop it from becoming money.
See, money can only become money.
It can only become money if people are using it as money, right?
And if the government can stop it being used, if I can’t go to the grocery store and use
my ATM that charges on Bitcoin or whatever, then it’s not money.
And I think that the government is going to step in and stop people from doing that.
And that’s what I…
So I have more respect and fear for the power of government today.
I don’t see that at all.
However, I could be wrong.
And I’m sure Yaron hopes he’s wrong.
And in some sense…
I hope the government just give in and the Fed tomorrow says, yeah, let Bitcoin thrive.
But I think they’ll want to regulate and control it.
And the only way to regulate and control it is to stop it.
Yeah, there’s a bunch of people who argue that Bitcoin is too compelling to government
that they’ll actually embrace it, like a Trojan horse and stuff.
But that assumes government has positive goals and wants to do good things.
You can ask…
No, no, it’s greedy.
They say government is greedy because they…
Well, Bitcoiners have this whole lingo.
They say number go up.
Government is not greedy.
Government is not greedy for money.
Government is greedy for power.
Government is greedy for control.
Government is much more…
Now, money is good too.
They’ll take the money if they can get it.
But it’s not fundamentally about money.
And this is something that many libertarians don’t understand.
This is something many of the Bitcoin community don’t understand.
They have far too benevolent a view of politicians and the people in government today.
By the way, I’m alive with this.
And I know why he’s laughing.
I think I know why he’s laughing.
You know exactly why I’m laughing.
And we should get to that issue at some point here.
So I think there’s a lot of naivete.
Yeah, there’s a lot.
Speaking of naivete…
A lot of it, Yaron.
I’m not naive.
I’m actually providing the warning and all these Bitcoiners are saying, no, no, no, government
doesn’t function that way.
No one says I’m naive.
Naive people think they’re not naive.
So let’s put this on the table.
Speaking of naive, I still more than the two of you by far, I think, have faith that government
Let’s put that on the table.
I got it.
I’m not trying to be pedantic.
What do you mean work?
Government can achieve goals.
That is not a dispute.
Government can achieve goals effectively to build a better world, a functioning society.
So I’m going to take it one step further than you.
The only way to achieve a better world is through government.
Michael, what do you think about that?
He almost dropped it.
I said it on purpose that way.
I’m glad that the mask is dropping.
You cannot achieve, you cannot have liberty or freedom without a government.
Now not anything like the governments we have today.
So I think the idea that you can have liberty or freedom without government is the rejection
of the idea of liberty and freedom and the undermining of any effort, any attempt to
In that sense, you, Lex, I know, exactly.
On this side, I’m in agreement with Lex, which is unusual.
That government is good for freedom.
Yeah, you’re in agreement with the guy who’s reading Mein Kampf.
That’s not a surprise.
Who’s dressed in black.
That’s the bad guys.
But the fascism, I mean, the road to fascism is anarchy.
What the hell are you talking about?
Can you give me one example of an anarchy like the fascism?
Well, every example of a stateless society leads to authoritarianism, every single one
in all of human history.
It has to.
Wait, wait, you’re saying Weimar Germany was anarchy?
Well, it wasn’t pure anarchy, but it got close.
It got close to anarchy?
I said the reverse, by the way.
I said the reverse.
I didn’t say that every form of authoritarianism started with anarchy.
I said that every situation in which human beings lived under anarchy led to authoritarianism.
So I said the flip was right.
Anarchism isn’t a location.
Anarchism is a relationship.
The three of us are in an anarchist relationship.
Every country is in a relationship of anarchy toward each other.
The US and Canada have an anarchist relationship toward one another.
And to claim, you know, going back to Emma Goldman, who I love, in 1901, William McKinley,
President McKinley, was shot by this guy, Leon Salgas.
And it was very funny, but he was a crazy person.
And they arrested him.
He shot the president.
And they go, why did you shoot President McKinley?
And he just goes, I was radicalized by Emma Goldman.
And she’s like, oh, goddammit.
So now she’s on the lam, she had nothing to do with this guy.
She’s trying to flee.
She gets arrested.
They caught her.
And she said, and this is the hubris of this woman, which I admire as the subject to be
She goes, I’d like to thank the cops for doing what they’re doing.
They’re turning far more people into anarchism than I could do on my own.
So given everything you’ve said in these two hours, and then to pivot to being anti government
is being anti liberty, I don’t feel I have to say anything.
For people who are not familiar, if you’re, I don’t know why you would not be familiar,
but Michael Malice talks quite a bit about the evils of the state and government and
espouses ideas that anarchism is actually, what is it, the most moral system, the most
effective system for human relationships.
There’s this great book called Atlas Shrugged and the author posits an anarchist private
She calls it Galt’s Gulch, where everything is privately owned and everyone is, no one
is in a position of authority over anyone else other than the landowner.
That’s an anarchist society.
There’s one judge and one authority.
And that’s what everyone has voluntarily moved there and agreed to be under.
It’s a very small community, right?
That is right.
There’s no problem with competing governments.
That’s the definition of anarchism.
That’s the definition of anarchism.
End the show.
I got him over.
Not definition of anarchy at all.
I’m all for competing governments.
You get more cookies.
He did it.
You brought him over.
Red rover, red rover.
What is this clown stuff?
I was Lithuanian.
That’s my people.
Yasnaya Polyana, Miodom, it’s honey.
No claims of health or nutrition.
The other one claimed health.
This one no claims.
This makes no claims.
No, I’m for competing governments on different geographic areas.
Why does it have to be over geographic?
Okay, let me…
It’s really crucial that it’s on different…
So you don’t have two judges in Galt’s Gulch, you have one.
And there’s a reason why.
There’s one authority.
There’s one system of laws in Galt’s Gulch that all the people under the Gulch abide
There’s two because they’re in America.
No, they’re not.
The whole point is they’re not, right?
They’re not in America, they’re in Colorado.
I know, but the whole point of the novel is they’ve left America.
They haven’t left America.
They’ve hid themselves.
So they’re not under the authority of the Americans.
But they are.
Don’t you get it?
But they’re hidden.
They’re supposed to be…
The point is that they’re hidden so they’re not under the…
No, no, no.
If the three of us hide, we’re still under the authority of Washington.
Not if they don’t know that we exist.
But this is why they haven’t established a state, and it’s not a government, and it’s
not in that sense an example of really the way we form societies.
It is a private club that is hidden away from everybody else.
I’m fine with that.
What happens if an American kills a Canadian in Mexico?
What happens in America, it depends.
Depends on the nature of the governments of the three places, right?
But usually what happens in most of human history is that America will launch a war
either against Mexico or Canada.
First of all…
So usually violence results in much more violence.
Anarchy is just a system that legalizes violence.
That’s all it does.
And in international affairs, that’s the reality.
The reality is that the way you resolve disputes that are major disputes is through violence.
Ayn Rand said, the definition of a government is an agency that has a monopoly of force
in a geographical area.
So you can’t complain that anarchism is legalizing violence when the definition of government,
according to Rand, is legalized violence.
No, but because you’re taking the definition of violence the way she defines it, right,
in this context.
A, she talks about retaliatory force only.
Has that ever happened?
That’s not the point.
That is the point.
Before there was Aristotle.
Before there was an America, there was an America.
The fact that something has never existed means that it will never exist before.
The fact that the ideas haven’t been developed to make something exist means that it will
never exist before.
You know, we’re young.
Human race is a young race.
The ideas of freedom are very young.
The ideas of the enlightenment are just 250 years old.
The idea that you can’t create the kind of government Ayn Rand talked about, I talk about,
that it’s never been before means it will never happen again.
That’s a silly argument.
It’s not a silly argument.
You’re being a Platonist.
No, not at all.
I’ll explain to you how you’re being exactly a Platonist.
So if I was sitting in 1750 arguing with Thomas Jefferson, he was telling me what kind of
state he was going to create, and I said, is a state like this ever being created?
And he said, no.
Was I being a Platonist?
Of course not.
No, you’re being a Platonist.
You know, things change.
You’re being a Platonist now.
Here’s why you’re being a Platonist now.
Because one of the things that Aristotle believed in, one of the things that Ayn Rand in other
contexts believed in, the cover of her book, The Philosophy Who Needs It, is, I think it’s
the Sistine Chapel, the cover, or wherever it is.
It’s Aristotle and Plato walking.
No, it’s not.
What’s that painting?
I forgot what it is.
It’s the School of Athens.
School of Athens.
It’s the Raphael.
So Plato’s pointing toward the heavens while they’re talking, and Aristotle’s pointing
to the earth.
So if you want, there’s two approaches.
There’s the Descartes, Cartesian approach, which is I sit in my armchair and I deduce
all of reality, or if I want to study the nature of man, if I want to study the nature
of dogs, if I want to study the nature of the sun, I have to look around.
I have to open my eyes.
I have to look at data.
It’s very difficult.
You know, when Rand was on Donahue, he asked her about, aren’t you impressed with the order
in the universe?
And she goes, oh, now you have to give me a moment.
And the point she made, which was very hard for many people to grasp, it’s hard for me
to grasp, is one’s concept of order comes from the universe.
You can’t have a disorderly universe because order means describing that which exists and
which has existed.
Now, if you are looking at governments throughout history that have always existed, and when
you were on Lex, you said, what I’m talking about has never existed.
To say that this, therefore, that that has a possibility of working in reality, I think
is certainly not a point in that favor, number one.
And number two, Jefferson was a fraud.
What Jefferson argued how America would look did not come true.
Jefferson’s concerns about the Constitution were accurate.
And the fact is the federal government did become centralized, did become a civil war.
So if you told Mr. Jefferson the government you’re positing can’t work, you would have
That’s not what I’m saying.
It’s not the issue of can it work or not.
It’s the issue of can something exist that hasn’t existed in the past?
It’s a silly argument.
Now, we can argue about the fact of reality, whether such a thing can exist.
But to say it hasn’t existed in the past is not an argument about whether it can exist
in the future.
But that’s the argument you made.
No, no, you’re talking about history and now you’re dancing around it.
No, I’m not.
I’m saying that something different happened in the founding of America.
It might not have been perfect, might not have been ideal, it might have been some people
even think it was bad, right?
Sure, it was different.
Something different happened.
And you could have said 20 years before and said, well, that’s never happened before,
so it can’t happen in the future.
That is a bad argument.
It’s not a good argument.
No, but you’re making the argument that just because something hasn’t happened before,
that’s certainly not a point to say it’s likely to happen or possible.
I’m saying, first of all, I agree that everything we know about what’s possible or what’s not
possible has to be from reality.
That we agree completely.
I think anarchists completely evade that point.
I think you guys live in a world of mythology, of abstraction, of Descartes, to imagine the
kind of anarchy that David Friedman or Rothbard describe.
It’s complete fiction and it’s complete mysticism.
Okay, let me ask just a few dumb questions.
So first of all, what do we do with violence in terms of just natural emergence of violence
in human societies?
So the idea that anarchism proposes is that we would, as the community grows, there may
be violence and then we together form collectives that sort of fund mechanisms that resist that
I mean, I’d love to sort of talk about violence because that seems to be the core thing.
That’s the difference between the state that was definitionally, I guess, is the thing
that has a monopoly on violence or controls violence in such a way that you don’t have
to worry about it.
And then the anarchism, I don’t know, I’m using bad words.
Your definition is accurate, but the point is that being definition of the state versus
how states act in reality is just absurd, yeah.
And then the idea that anarchism will be is that it’s more kind of a market of defenses
So you have like security companies and then you hire different ones that are more competent.
You have things being made affordable, you have more accessibility to security, you have
accountability when people misuse their power, and you have more layers of security than
having a government monopoly.
What every objectivist understand, and they don’t deny this, this is something they talk
about constantly, is anytime you have a government monopoly, it’s going to have enormous distortions
as a consequence.
It’s going to be expensive.
It’s going to be ineffective.
And when you’re talking about ineffectiveness in markets, that’s not just, you know, like
the cup sucks.
It often means mass death.
It often means persecution.
So this is something that anarchism, if not entirely prevents, certainly mitigates enormously.
So can I just, as a thought experiment, say it was very easy to immigrate to another country,
like where you could just move about from government to government, would that alleviate
most of the problems that you have towards the state, which is like people being free
to choose which government they operate under?
Wouldn’t that essentially be…
Last scam, yeah.
So like what is, I’m trying to understand why governments aren’t already the thing that’s
the goal of anarchism.
The kind of collectives that emerge under anarchism seems to be what government…
You’re equating two terms.
So there’s something called like private governance and there’s government.
So for example, if I go to Yaron’s house and he has a rule, take off your shoes, become
your house, if you want to really be kind of silly about it, you could say he’s the
But it’s really nonsensical to say that.
If you go to Macy’s, right, if you want to return your sweater, Macy’s rules are right
You have seven days.
If you don’t have a receipt, you’re going to get store credit.
If you do have a receipt, you get a refund.
So every organization, every bar, every nightclub, your house has rules of governments.
It’s often they’re unspoken.
This is unavoidable.
No one in America by law has to pay a tip, but it’s just customary.
You go at the waiter, you give them 15, 20%, so on and so forth.
Now what anarchism does is it says, okay, security is something that is of crucial,
essential human need.
We all need to be safe in our property, safe in our purpose.
The organization that by far is the biggest violator of this and always has been, always
will be, is the government.
Because it’s a monopoly, because it has no accountability.
And look at the rioting last year, right?
If you have one agency, pretend it’s not the government, pretend it’s Apple.
And Apple has in charge of security in this town.
People are rioting, people are looting.
And Apple says, yeah, we’re not going to send people into work.
And if you try to defend yourself, we’re going to put you in jail as well.
That’s the problem of having a government monopoly and that’s something that anarchism
But don’t you, cause you said no accountability, don’t you mean to say poor accountability?
No, I mean to say no accountability.
But isn’t that the idea of democracies?
I’m not for democracy.
No, not for democracy, but like the system of governments that we have, there is a monopoly
on violence, but there is a, I mean, at least in the ideal, but I think in practice as well,
there’s an accountability.
I do not think that’s the case.
I know you’re a critic of the police force and all those kinds of things, but the military
is accountable to the people.
I do not agree.
The police force is accountable to the people.
I do not agree.
Perhaps imperfectly, but you’re saying not at all.
Not at all.
And we’ve seen many examples of police officers doing horrific things on video and they don’t
even lose their pensions.
But there’s a lot of amazing police officers or no?
I mean, no, there are not.
So you’re saying by nature, police is like a fundamentally flawed system.
No, by nature, government monopoly on police is a fundamentally irredeemable system.
Talk about private security.
If I have a private security firm, you could have that under a government.
And as a result of my private security, my person who I’m bodyguarding gets shot.
That’s going to be very bad for my company as compared to competing companies.
However, when you have a government monopoly and I get people shot, what are you going
So the problem is that all the examples are going to be within the context of an existing
The iPhone example and all these other examples of us being here, we’re not an anarchy.
That is absurd.
We’re under a particular system of law and the system of laws applies and we know that
the particular system of laws applies.
So the problem is when you have…
There are many laws that we’re not going to be enforced, that we’re not going to be subject
We know that.
No, there are lots of laws that are not going to be enforced.
And that doesn’t make this anarchy because there are the laws out there.
They could be enforced, which makes it an anarchy.
But look, there’s a number of issues here.
There’s an issue of the role of force in human society.
I got to clarify things because I think you misunderstood what I said.
I’m not saying that America is anarchist.
What I’m saying is the three of us have an anarchist relationship between us because
none of us have authority over the others.
That’s what I’m saying.
But that’s a bad use of the word anarchy.
No, that’s the correct use of the word anarchy.
It makes it meaningless.
It makes it…
Every time any people get together, they have an anarchistic relationship.
We have a voluntary relationship.
That’s what anarchism means, voluntarism.
No, it doesn’t.
It’s a political system.
You want to get a dictionary out?
You’re taking a word and it’s accepted usage.
And then you’re saying, oh, no, it means…
You mean like selfishness?
And we never finished that discussion.
You’re taking a word, we’re taking a word that you’re defining and replacing it with
I’m not for anarchism or voluntarism.
But let’s understand what voluntary means, right?
For example, going to stores and there’s a certain relationship that we have with a store
that we engage in certain voluntary transactions with that store.
Now, I believe that that works because there is a certain system of law that both the store
and we have accepted that makes that possible.
Now, if that didn’t, there are certain people who would like to walk into their store and
just take the stuff, right?
So there is a…
We might not, but there are certain people who might want it to go into their store.
There’s a certain system of laws that regulates the relationship and that defines the property
rights and then provides protection for the property rights.
Now, you would like all that privatized.
That is, the store would have its police force and that would be privatized.
Now, I don’t believe that force can be privatized and there are many reasons…
And it shouldn’t.
I don’t think it can and I don’t think…
I think it’s a…
That’s an interesting distinction.
I don’t think it can because I think that it’s an unstable equilibrium, right?
I don’t think competing police forces can work.
At the end, the police force with the biggest gun always wins and always takes over and
That’s not true.
Look at Iran and Iraq, excuse me.
We had the bigger guns, we didn’t win.
Look at Afghanistan.
We didn’t win partially because none of that is an example of anarchy.
No, but you just said the guy with the biggest gun is gonna win.
The guy with the biggest gun is gonna win.
We didn’t win in Vietnam.
We had the bigger guns.
But again, you’re taking it outside of a context.
That was a context in which countries are fighting, not a context in which there is
Let’s suppose you, Yaron, have a rocket launcher and there’s 100 people with handguns.
How are you gonna win?
You have the biggest gun.
Oh, believe me, I could win.
With one rocket launcher against 100 people?
Well, it depends how many rockets I have in the rocket launcher and whether I’m willing
to use them.
But that’s… so now it’s democracy because there are more of them that they win.
Look, any one of these scenarios, all it does… so let’s go back to the store.
This is fascinating, by the way.
I’m really enjoying this.
I just want to say that.
This is great.
I’m glad you are.
I am enjoying the pain.
And I’m also enjoying the comments that are gonna happen.
Oh, the comments are gonna be overwhelmingly on your side.
I don’t think so.
I know that.
I don’t think so.
I’m completely dishonest.
I’m a modern day…
What’s his name?
What’s the guy who is defending communism?
I’m a modern day Richard Wolff.
There’s a sense in which I think anarchists are evading reality in the same sense.
So we’ve got this…
Do you think I’m dishonest or delusional?
Calling someone dishonest is a really specific…
I think you’re delusional.
And I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt of being delusional.
What is love?
And as I said on the show, on the previous interview, I said, only smart people can be
anarchists because it requires a certain level of abstraction of being divorced from reality
that is hard for people who are actually connected to reality.
He makes a good point because I always talk about this with people on social media and
they talk about a lot of people who buy into the corporate media narrative and how they’re
I go, it’s easier to train smart people than dumb people.
It’s easier to convince smart people of the systemic that’s divorced from reality than
You can deal in abstracts.
I don’t have to deal with the concretes that actually happen.
This is an example I gave debating another anarchist.
Who was it?
She must have sucked.
Well, you were the best.
They were Hoppe fans.
Not one of my least like…
The people I like least in the world out there.
You like them better than the communists, don’t you?
Oh, come on.
Because I think it leads to the same place.
I really do.
I think it leads to gulags.
I think anarchy leads to gulags.
And I think Hoppe’s view of anarchy definitely leads to gulags.
I’ll grant you just for the sake of argument that it leads to gulags.
However, surely you concede that they are against gulags whereas the commies have no
problem with it.
And that’s a big…
I think some do.
I’m not sure people like Hoppe do.
Because if you read some of his stuff, one wonders, right?
But he wants monarchies and he wants…
No, he said monarchies are preferable to democracy, which is true.
No, it’s not.
I mean, one of the problems with an anarchist is…
That’s the monarch.
One of the problems…
One judge, one authority.
This is why I think…
Yeah, the monarch.
That’s why I think…
So you’re a Hoppean.
I don’t think it’s authoritarians.
So Yaron Brooks is a Hoppean.
Get in the chopper.
No, I’m not a Hoppean.
I don’t want one judge.
I don’t want an arbitrary judge.
I want an objective judge.
There’s an essay by John Hasnas, I think his name, I’m gonna bungle it.
It’s gonna be in my upcoming book on anarchism.
And he just discusses, and it’s a very long, complicated, technical issue, that the idea
of objective law is incoherent.
I mean, that’s why we disagree so much.
Because I think objective law is the only coherent system.
Do you disagree that we, in effect, have competing systems of law under America?
Meaning there’s different ideologies.
You have the Sotomayor ideology versus the Scalia ideology, and that effectively.
And the point being, when you and I file a lawsuit, it completely depends on who the
And in theory, I don’t think the system works this way, but in theory, the way the system
would work is that on new issues, there is some competition.
Syria wasn’t talking to you.
So in theory, the system works, and this works, I think, with competing states, but also with
competing legal views, particularly on a new issue.
There’s some, this is how common law worked, right?
There’s some evolution of it, and at some point, that gets codified into the law.
And it gets objectified in that sense.
That is, there’s some conclusion that people come to.
This is the role, in theory, of a legislature, and the legislature would be nice if it was
composed of people who had some idea of legal philosophy.
And it gets codified.
Because these things are complex, and at some point, it goes through all the arguments,
and then a certain truth emerges, or a certain truth is identified, and that’s what gets
encoded in law.
That’s what the purpose of a legislature is.
Now, if you have competing mechanisms that don’t converge on one authority, because there’s
no one authority, there are multiple authorities.
That is, in a sense, there are multiple governments or multiple systems of enforcement, right?
Then you get not just something emerging out of it, what you get is competing legal systems.
Competing legal systems that now have competing mechanisms of enforcement, competing police
forces, competing militaries, however we want to define it.
And now there’s no mechanism to resolve that.
Now, yes, we could negotiate, and there’s goodwill, and so on, right?
Yeah, there you go.
But now we’re talking about the law, what each view, each position views as true and
And it might involve, for example, it might involve the fact that the legal system has
come to the conclusion that it’s okay for children to have sex with adults, and this
legal system thinks that is evil and wrong, right?
And something has happened between the two, right?
How do you resolve that conflict?
There is no resolution.
If this adult wants to have sex with this child, this legal system thinks it’s okay,
that legal system thinks it’s…
The only way to resolve that system is through one system imposing itself on the other.
An example of countries is exactly that.
When you had monarchies, when you had the little states all over the place, the way
any kind of dispute was resolved when there were issues of territorial disputes, or issues
of marriage, or issues of different legal interpretations about… was war.
No, it wasn’t.
Yes, it was.
It wasn’t marriage.
A lot of times people would marry a princess from another country just to feast.
Forced marriages, which was not very pleasant.
I’d rather sacrifice one princess than a queen.
No, I don’t want to sacrifice anybody.
And in addition, I don’t want to sacrifice anybody.
I want to sacrifice the royals.
And in addition…
Well, I don’t want royals.
I don’t want royals.
Well, that’s what sacrificing means.
I think royals are pretty disgusting.
Let’s get the baskets.
And then on top of that, look, those periods in history are filled with violence, much
more violence than we have today, much more bloody than they are today, far less freedom
than we have today in terms of individual freedom.
After the 20th…
You’re comparing this to 20th century.
Yes, I’m comparing a monarchy, right?
You said that’s preferable to democracy, right?
Yes, I did.
I’m saying Hoppe said that.
I’m not saying I’m saying that.
I’m saying Hoppe said that.
To some extent.
But I’m not going to die in that hell.
Hoppe said that.
And I think it’s ridiculous.
These kings and queens were fighting constantly.
I mean, the wars back then were violent in a way that…
No, much more violent than now.
If you look at the actual percentage of people killed in war…
The Steven Pinker book.
If you look at the percentage of people…
And not just that.
You can look at the other stats.
The percentage of people killed in war back then were far greater than the percentage
of people even during World War II and World War I.
So anarchy, and you know, David Friedman loves to quote the sagas of Iceland about how wonderful
And I mean, it’s funny because a lot of people who read David Friedman never read the sagas.
It’s worth reading.
The sagas of the Iceland are filled with violence.
Constantly people killing each other over, you know, I stole your chickens and you slept
with my wife.
The only way to resolve disputes, the only way to resolve disputes was violence.
There was no authority, there was no mechanism to resolve these disputes.
There was a council, but the council couldn’t enforce anything, so in the end of the day
we just resolved to violence.
And this is legalized because there is no mechanism by which to make the violence illegal.
So all anarchy is, is legalized violence constrained for a while and up until people stop that
constraint by, you know, arrangements between the security organizations.
But the security organizations have us by the balls, to put it figuratively, right?
They really do.
Unlike the state?
Oh, the state today has it, but I would much rather live in this state, much rather live
in this state, much rather live in many more authoritarian states than this, than a place
where there’s constant violence.
I have a bunch of questions, but I’m enjoying this.
Here’s why everything he said is wrong.
Well, the idea of competing legal systems is inevitable because what Rand talked about
is what she wanted was, and this is really kind of out of character with her broader
ideology is, I think this was her term and I’m not saying this to make fun of you, when
she has a judge and he’s looking at the information, she wants him to be basically, I think she’s
the word robot, someone without any ideology.
That they’re just looking at the facts, they’re not bringing their kind of worldview to it.
I take it as a compliment.
You are welcome.
I think that given otherwise, her correct view that ideology is just a slur for someone’s
philosophy that someone, especially someone as erudite, educated and informed as a judge
has to, and in fact should bring their ideology to their work is in one sense a little contradiction
in her view, number one.
Number two is we have right now the DA in San Francisco, I forget his name.
He’s the son of literal terrorists, communist terrorists, and he has made it the decree
unilaterally that if you shoplift for less than, I forget, $200, we’re not prosecuting.
Yeah, I know that.
You know this guy, right, right, right.
So now you and I, and Lex I’m sure probably, agree that his ideology is abhorrent, that
this doesn’t help poor people, it doesn’t help shop owners, it creates a culture, an
area where it’s just deleterious to human life.
However, he has in one sense, given that he is a state operative, a legitimate worldview.
Can I ask you just a quick question?
Why couldn’t a security force in a particular context say, yeah, if you take stuff on that
store, we’re not going to have any problem with that?
I agree with you.
That’s very fair.
That’s a very legitimate question.
The point is, in the context that I’m talking about, that firm is like, wait a minute, I’m
hiring you for security, you’re saying we’re not going to provide security, why am I writing
you a check?
And we have examples of this in real life.
If I get into a car accident with you, right?
You have your car insurance, I have my car insurance.
If your car insurance had their druthers, they wouldn’t pay me one penny.
If my car insurance didn’t have their druthers, they wouldn’t pay you one penny.
We already have all, you were saying earlier that we need to have one kind of umbrella
mechanism of use.
There are already more cases than you can count where there’s private arbitration.
Now the argument is that private arbitration only works because they have recourse to the
But my point is, there’s many examples where even though that recourse is theoretically
possible, it’s not a realistic concern, specifically because they know that if you have recourse
to the state, you have no concept of what that outcome is going to look like, except
knowing it’s going to be exorbitant, it’s going to be time consuming.
We can’t use the state, right?
I mean, I’m as critical as the state as it is right now.
Maybe not as critical as yours, not as critical as yours, but I’m quite critical of the state
as it is right now.
But let’s say we got into a traffic accident and you have a Rolls Royce and I destroyed
your Rolls Royce and my insurance company now owes your insurance company a lot of money.
And let’s imagine it’s a lot of money just for the sake of it.
You’re clearly guilty.
Yeah, clearly guilty.
And my insurance company looks at the books and it goes, I don’t want to pay this.
And you know what?
I’ve got bigger guns than his insurance company.
And I’m just going to take over their insurance company.
And hostile takeover takes on a whole new meaning when I can muster guns on my behalf
than in a hostile takeover in a capitalist context.
That to me is what happens.
That to me is inevitably what happens.
And I think this is where the delusion comes in.
The idea that when big money is involved and power is involved, remember, again, the same
kind of politicians who today get into politics are likely to want to run some of these security
agencies because they’ll have a lot of power over people.
The same kind of maybe sociopaths would be the same skill set, but that’s a separate
I think it very much is.
But you think people, the people in Washington, the same, the CEOs psychologically and skill
Well, today’s CEOs?
You might be right.
Because I think that’s what’s rewarded for a CEO, somebody who could get along with government.
And I think the kind of CEO who is going to run a security company, which is not just
about business, it’s about the use of force.
It’s about control.
It’s about negotiation with other entities that are using force, you know, diplomacy.
And we should get back to objective law because I think it’s essential to this whole argument.
I think all you get into is security agencies fighting security agencies.
And again, the biggest gun.
And I don’t mean here the guy who has the biggest literal gun, the rocket launcher versus
I got excited for a second.
By the biggest gun?
The party that has the more physical force, however, that is mustered either by numbers
or by weapons is going to dominate and will take over everybody else.
Now, one of the things that’s common in a market is takeovers.
And here the consolidation can happen through force and you can rule other security companies.
And that’s exactly what will happen until you dominate the particular geographic area.
So let me explain why I disagree with that.
You were just saying, and I agree correctly, I agree with you, that, listen, if I have
access to the bigger gun, why am I paying you or whoever’s paying whatever?
I’m just going to use force and not pay them.
We have that right now.
It’s called lobbying.
So instead of me, and I’m sure in your example, you weren’t being literal, instead of the
insurance company literally having the army, they could be like, hey, let me call corrupt
co with a mafia.
Go out and take them out.
By having this federal government, as you know, and certainly I’m not a fan of, takes
more through asset forfeiture than burglaries combined.
What asset forfeiture is, people don’t even understand this.
This is something crazy, which you’re on, it’s as opposed to me, as opposed as I am,
which is I’m a cop.
I go to your house.
I think you haven’t been charged or convicted of anything.
I have evidence.
It’s usually in a car.
It’s like drug deals.
I go to your house, you’re a drug dealer.
I say, and you can understand the reasoning, well, if someone is getting profit through
illegal mechanisms, their profit isn’t really their property and they shouldn’t be rewarded
So basically, I go to your house, you’re a drug dealer, I seize all your property.
You don’t really have recourse, even though you haven’t been through deep, I’m just explaining
to the audience, through the new process and SOL.
That combined, for people who don’t know, is more than the total amount of burglaries
It’s a huge incentive.
And what happens is the police department, which seizes your car auctions, it sees your
house auctions, it’s a great way to line their pockets.
This is a huge incentive.
It’s a huge incentive for police departments to do this because it’s like, look, this guy’s
Maybe he’s not a drug dealer, but he’s clearly a pimp.
Let me just take all his stuff and it’s going to go to the community.
Well, and the rationale originally was if I try him, in the meantime, he’ll take that
money and funnel it somewhere else and hide it, and I’ll never be able to get access to
And it was passed in the 1970s under the original Caesar Laws, what kind of RICO Act, going
after the mafia.
And one of the reasons I despise Giuliani as much as I do, and there’s very few politicians
out there that I despise more, is because he was the first guy to use RICO on financiers.
And so it wasn’t even a drug dealer.
It was you accused of a financial fraud, not you weren’t shown to be guilty, you were accused.
All your assets basically were forfeiture.
Innocent until proven guilty went out the window.
If you were managing money, you were done.
You were finished.
So you’re saying this kind of stuff naturally emerges with the state.
So my point is what are presented as the strongest criticism of anarchism are inevitably descriptions
of status quo.
What you’re describing is already the event.
I am a big insurance company.
I don’t want to pay you.
I call Washington.
Either I pay you and Washington gives me a subsidy.
So what you’re describing is an inevitable aspect of having a government.
So what I’m describing is the inevitable evolution of anarchy into a government.
I just think that the…
Markets don’t consolidate into monopoly.
That’s a leftist propaganda myth.
Not markets where you have substitute products, but this is the problem.
The problem is force has no substitute.
That is force is not a product you can have.
So this is my fundamental issue about turning competing police forces.
Force is not a product.
Force is not a service.
It’s a service.
It’s not a service.
And it’s not a product.
Security is not a service?
Well, security in the context of a legal system is.
But this is the point.
The legal system, the laws are not a service or a product.
They are a different type of human institution.
Science is not a product or a service.
It’s a different type of human institution.
There are different types of human institutions.
Some are marketable.
You can create markets in, some you cannot.
Law is not a marketable system.
Can I ask a question quickly?
Is there any other field other than law that you think you can’t create markets?
Science is not marketable.
The science itself is not marketable.
What science is true and the same ethic is in law.
Law is not marketable.
Law is the system that allows markets to happen.
You need a system of law, whether it’s private law in a particular narrow context or whether
it’s broader law.
Law is the context in which markets arise.
So one of the reasons we transact is we know that there’s a certain contract between us,
explicit or implicit, that is protected by a certain law, whether it’s protected by private
agency or private, the government doesn’t matter.
But there’s a certain contract that is protectable, right?
By a system.
So law is the context in which markets arise.
You don’t create a market because there’s nothing above it, in a sense.
It is the context that allows markets to be created.
Once you market it, markets fall apart.
So hold on a second.
So you think that law could be a market?
And it already is a market.
And we see it, for example, eBay.
If I am buying something from Yaron, I won’t even know his name.
I don’t know.
Maybe he’s in another country.
And he screws me out of the money.
I can’t sue you.
Or if I sue you in England, good luck with that.
You’re not going to argue that I’m going to sue you.
What happens in this case, which has already been solved by the market, eBay and PayPal,
which has access to your bank account, they act as the private arbiter.
They’re going to get it wrong a lot.
Not even a question, just like Yaron’s not going to argue that the government right now
gets it wrong a lot.
That’s not even a question.
The point is, at the very least, I’m going to get my resolution faster, cheaper, and
So the issue with having any kind of government, anything, and Yaron’s not going to disagree
with this, is at the very least, it’s going to be expensive, inefficient, and cause conflict.
Yeah, but I think what it allows is exactly…
We don’t even know what the Supreme Court’s going to judge.
Again, you’re moving us to today’s environment, which I’m against.
I’m moving us to reality.
No, but reality doesn’t have to be what it is.
I mean, go ahead.
That’s the most anti Iran quote.
No, in a sense of the politics, the political reality.
I know, but the quote by itself is great.
You’d love to…
He agrees with Donald Hoffman is what he said.
Yeah, it turns out I agree with Hoffman.
He’s an elf.
Where were we?
So I believe that because we have a certain system of government, it allows for these
private innovations to come about that facilitates certain issues in a much more efficient way
than the government would deal with it.
But it’s only because we have a particular system that has defined property rights, that
has a clear view of what property rights are, it has a clear view of what a transaction
mean or what contract law is, and eBay has a bunch of stuff that you sign, whether you
read it or not.
The fact is defined first, and then there are massive innovations at the level of particular
transactions at the level of an eBay that facilitate increased efficiency.
And that’s great.
But the fact is none of that gets developed.
None of that gets created.
In a world in which I might be living under different definition of property rights, eBay
might be living under separate definition of property rights.
You might have a third definition of property rights, and there’s no mechanism by which
we can actually operationalize that because we all have a different system.
There is a mechanism.
We already have that.
Let’s change the example I just used.
What happens if a Chinese person who has different definition of property rights kills an American
Again, in a smaller community, what happens is lots of violence.
No, but I’m talking right now.
A Chinese person has…
Right now, the only reason that it doesn’t lead to violence is because people are afraid
of even more violence, and it affects many people, large numbers of people who don’t
want to go to war.
But if you have small…
In a state where the states were small, in those little states, there was war all the
time for exactly those reasons, because the cost was lower, because it was more personal,
because I knew maybe the person who was killed over there, and I went to my king and encouraged
him to go to war.
You know why there was war?
Violence is constant.
You know why there was war?
Because there had been no Ayn Rand, and good ideas lead to good societies, which leads
to good people, which leads to good behavior, good interrelationships.
So now that we have Ayn Rand, all this stuff in the past is irrelevant, because if they
studied her works, we would be…
Rand was on Donahue again, you could watch the clip, and he asks her, she goes…
He goes, you’re saying that if we were more selfish and acted more self interest, there’d
be less war, less Hitler?
And she said, there wouldn’t be any.
Well, if we were all selfish, there wouldn’t be any Hitlers, right?
But who do you regard as the overweening authority if I am buying a product from you as someone
in England via eBay?
Who’s the governing authority?
The governing authority are the legal systems in England and the United States, which have
to be synchronized pretty well.
So why eBay doesn’t function in certain countries, because there is no legal system.
I agree with you.
My point is, why do those legal systems have to be a function specifically of geography,
as opposed to, why can’t I sitting here…
I could sit here, you’re not going to let me finish my point.
I can sit here and be a British diplomat, right?
And as a British diplomat, I’m going to be treated differently under American law than
you are as an American citizen as you are.
Why can’t you have that same process, sure, we’re geographically proximate, but I’m a
citizen of this company and you’re a citizen of that company?
Why would that be different in your opinion?
If it’s England and the United States, it’s probably not going to matter that much, right?
But if it’s Iran and the United States, then the fact that we’re sitting next to each other
makes a huge difference.
The fact is that, and Ayn Rand, I think would be the first technologist and this is why
she was so opposed to anarchy.
That’s not why.
It is why.
It’s because of Rothbard.
No, it has nothing to do with…
It has nothing to do with Rothbard.
How do you know?
How would you know?
Because her argument against anarchy is an intellectual one, not a personality based
Can’t it be both?
Anyway, but back to it, back to Iran.
No, it has nothing to do with Rothbard.
You don’t know that, you’re not a psychic or a necromancer.
The only way we’re going to resolve this is arm wrestling, right?
It’s through violence.
Arm wrestling is not violence.
Words are violence.
Words are violence, everyone.
Words are violence.
Emotions are violence.
He throws me off with this stuff.
That’s the problem.
Even facts and truth?
He’s very, very good.
Not facts and truth.
Distortions and arbitrary statements, because your statement about Rothbard is an arbitrary
statement that has no cognitive standing and therefore I can dismiss it.
I’m not doing like this because I want to dismiss it.
It has no cognitive status.
The fact that she disliked Rothbard doesn’t mean that everything he said she was going
to dismiss because she disliked it.
I agree with you.
But what I’m saying is it would not be impossible.
But there’s no evidence.
I’ll give you some evidence.
It is not impossible that if you hate some… What’s that guy’s name?
It’s not impossible that if Richard Wolff said something that you would otherwise agree
with, hold on, let me finish, you’d be dismissive or less likely to give him credit for it being
a human being.
That’s all I’m saying.
It’s as silly as to say Rothbard came up with this theory of anarchy because he was pissed
off at Ayn Rand and wanted to write something.
I don’t know.
Bring it down.
Bring it down so that he can speak too and let’s keep it…
I don’t think we’re getting agitated.
No, you guys aren’t.
No, no, no.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
No, bring it down not in terms of give more pauses so Michael can insert himself.
That’s what I mean.
See, private governance.
What’s the point of that?
Look, it’s private governance.
I’m all for private governance.
I’m trying to establish this geographic law of the land.
I don’t know.
That’s not the point.
I do think that Michael’s… I mean, that’s interesting that you disagree with this.
I do believe that psychology has an impact on ideas and Ayn Rand, you don’t think Ayn
Rand had grudges that impacted the way she saw the world?
We would like to think that…
I don’t think any of her grudges entered into her philosophical statements, at least not
that I can tell, and given the centrality Ayn Rand gave to the role of government, to
the existence of government, to the need for government, to establish real freedom, and
the way she defines freedom, which is very different than Rothbard, and the way she defines
it, to say then that her opposition and anarchy is because of, I think, is just an arbitrary
I didn’t say because of.
I said followed by.
And not, and I don’t see why psychology would enter it.
Now, maybe the tone in which you responded to an answer might have been motivated by
that or something like that, but given the amount of thought she gave to the role of
government in human society and why government was needed, and why you needed laws in order
to be free, that freedom didn’t proceed, you needed the right hierarchy, I think that we
could say that it, give it at least a respect that she might have been wrong, but she had
a particular theory that rejected anarchy, and that thought anarchy was wrong.
Okay, hold on.
I really resent, and I don’t want to say you’re doing this, the implication that if Rand was
guided by her passions, that somehow is a criticism of her or lessens her.
I think Rand was a very passionate person.
I think she loved her husband enormously.
She despised certain people enormously, and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong
I don’t think she would change her philosophical position about something because she disliked
I agree, but what I’m saying.
Given the amount of thought she gave to that philosophical position.
All I’m saying is, it is possible that if someone comes across ideas that she had not
considered before, if she regarded this person as a bad actor, like all of us, she would
be less likely to take them under consideration.
That’s all I’m saying.
And I think other people confronted her with ideas of anarchy, I don’t think Rothbard was
the only one.
Correct, Roy Charles as well, yeah.
Roy Charles certainly did.
And she rejected them, and she rejected them because she had, and whether you agree with
or not, she had a thought out position about why you needed to have this particular structure
in place so that markets and human freedom could exist.
It’s just really interesting because this is the one time, in my view, and please correct
me if I’m wrong, where she invokes need as kind of a basis for political activity.
So let’s suppose you want this federal government, whatever you want, you don’t want it like
it is now, like your version of the government, I don’t see why it’s an issue for you for
me and Lex to say, we’re not privy to Washington, we’re going to do our own thing, and given,
if we go about our lives not initiating force and being productive actors, why she would
have an issue with this.
Why would I care?
Well, you would care because if you’re saying the government has a monopoly on force between
these two oceans.
So you can do that as long as you don’t violate somebody else’s rights.
Sure, but what I’m saying is we just declare ourselves sovereign, we’re not going to pay
any income taxes, we’re going to be peaceful people, and when Lex and I have disputes,
we’re going to call Joe, that’s Joe Rogan, you’re never going to get to meet him, but
he’s a good guy.
We’re going to call Joe, and Joe’s going to resolve it.
He’s so good at like, you know, needling and getting you off topic that way.
He’s really effective at it.
I always say, when I debate communists, I always say to them…
You mean Lex?
Yeah, maybe Lex.
Maybe I should…
Comrade, I love you.
That if they really believe…
Burgundy, not red.
If they really believe in what they think, then they should be advocates of capitalism,
because under capitalism, under my system of government, capitalist government, right,
they could go and start a commune, they can live with communists, they can live to each
according to his needs, from each according to his ability, all they want, and live their
pathetic miserable lives that way, and the government would never intervene, because
the whole view of capitalism is freedom, is we leave it alone, right?
As long as you’re not violating my rights, as long as you’re not taking my property,
as long as you’re not engaging with…
So in that sense, yeah, you and Lex can form your own thing, I don’t believe in compulsory
taxes anyway, so you and Lex can do your own thing, never pay taxes, as long as you’re
not violating the laws, and the laws are very limited, right, because they’re only there
to protect individual rights, so as long as you’re not violating somebody else’s property
rights or inflicting force on anybody else, you’re peaceful, you can do what you want,
you know, don’t have…
Don’t have sex with kids, right?
I will stop immediately.
The rest of us are just playing checkers and he’s playing chess.
Yeah, I mean, a government that protects individual rights properly is a government
that leaves you alone to live your life as you see fit, even if you live your life in
a way that I don’t approve of, that I don’t think is right, I mean, that’s the whole point,
So the only thing you can do is, you know, try to enforce arbitrary laws that you come
up with on me.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where rights protecting laws are superfluous,
but the reality is usually that somebody violates them, whether by accident or intentionally,
and that you need some mechanism, now if you guys can resolve that dispute without getting
But if you guys land up not resolving, there is another authority that will help you resolve
Yeah, our company.
So can I ask you a question?
Under anarchism, what kind of systems of laws do you think will emerge?
Do you think we’ll have basically a similar kind of layer of universal law to where, like…
Let me answer this.
This is a great question.
I know what you’re going with this.
This is often presented as a criticism of anarchism, and this is actually something
I think Yaron would agree with as well in other contexts, which is this.
One of the reasons communism can’t work, central planning can’t work, and this was one of Mises’s
great innovations, is if I could sit down, it’s like asking, what would the fashion industry
look like if the government didn’t run it?
There’s no way for me to know.
What the fashion industry is, which all of us are in favor of it being free, is literally
millions of designers, of seamstresses, of people who make the fabric, also references
throughout history, and these creative artistic minds putting things together in every year.
There’s no shortage of clothes.
In fact, we make so many clothes that we send them in landfill sizes to overseas poor countries,
and you have people in these destitute countries wearing Adidas shirts.
They can’t even read English, but because we don’t know what to do with all these clothes.
That’s how the glory of free enterprise is.
The problem is, problem using this loosely, everything comes cheap and overabundant, like
Well, it doesn’t actually come overabundant, but it’s done properly.
Supply meets demand.
What I’m saying is, if 150 years ago you said, you know, one day we’re going to have an issue
where there’s going to be so much food and then the kids are too fat.
It’s just going to be like, I have four who are dead in the crib.
I mean, what kind of paradise is this?
What you would have, we have this right now in certain senses, you have the Hasidim, you
have Sharia, I’m sure in the medical system, they have their own kind of private courts
and court marshals is another example of this, although obviously that’s through the state.
So you would have innovation in law, under markets, just the same ways you’d have it.
And we have this already.
Maybe it’s not, Yaron doesn’t like in terms of murder and rape and I can understand why,
but in terms of business and interactions, he would have no problem with different arbitration
firms, having different rules for what kind of evidence is allowed.
Maybe you only have 60 days to make your case and so on and so forth.
And the market is a process of creative innovation and it would be dynamic.
It would be changing.
So what’s interesting relating to this is that one of the ways Ayn Rand proposed raising
revenue for the government, because she was against, was let’s say we have a contract.
We could just have it arbitrated without government interfering, but if we wanted to access the
courts of the government as a final authority, we would pay.
And that’s how governments would raise, some of the funds would be raised that way.
So there’s definitely a value to having this innovation and the public space.
But I don’t believe that is the case with murder.
I don’t believe that is the case with violent crime.
And it’s funny you bring up Sharia because David Friedman, when he gives, when he gives
Wait, I got to ask you to clarify.
I’m not trying to interrupt you.
You were talking about with murder.
I mean, you would agree, I think just to clarify for the audience, that there is room for innovation
and murder because there’s things like matter of slaughter.
There’s murder one, murder two.
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
I don’t think it happens at a market level.
I don’t think there’s a market innovation for murder.
Somebody has to figure out what those standards are and they will evolve as we gain more knowledge.
But we’re all in agreement that the word murder means very different things.
And if circumstances matter and standards of proof and standards of evidence, all of
that, there has to be a standard.
All of that, there has to be a standard.
And that’s what I think a proper government provides.
So David Friedman uses, in some of his talks about private law, he uses Sharia law in Somalia
as an example.
Look, legal systems evolve privately, independent, yeah, authoritarian ones, ones that don’t
respect the rights of women at all.
Are you married?
But we all want to have sex with our mother, as Freud would say.
Oh my God.
Can we make that a clip?
Where the hell did that come from?
That’s much better than what I was just saying about the kids.
I appreciate that.
So we went in a voluntary way, although sometimes for Yaron and sometimes for Michael it felt
involuntary, but we all got the big guns.
So how do we land this?
Obviously there’s a disagreement about anarchism here.
I think there’s a big agreement.
Because if Yaron was saying that if I want to have my voluntary stupid thing with you,
and his government is not going to tax me, and is not going to insinuate itself unless
we’re murdering each other, something like that, I’m okay with that.
So if you take the example of Sharia law, which was mentioned earlier.
So if you have a little community within this, within my world, right, that imposes Sharia
law, if it starts mutilating little girls, then you impose your law on it, right?
You impose the law on it because it’s an issue of protecting individual rights.
If they want to treat women, if women have to cover up, and the women are okay with that,
If the woman wants to leave but is not allowed to leave, that’s where my government would
step in and prevent them from using force against her.
And that’s it, right?
Now I think it’s more complicated than that, right?
Because I think there are complex issue property rights often where it’s not going to be easy
for you guys to resolve, and particularly if you interact with people outside of your
But yeah, my view is government is there to protect individual rights.
Otherwise, leave you alone.
I think this conversation is going to continue for quite a while.
Israel has a new book on the topic coming out eventually, one day.
So you’re working also on the, still called the White Pill?
The White Pill, yeah.
And the first line of the White Pill is, Ayn Rand did not laugh.
I’m not joking.
That’s literally the first line.
I believe it.
Because it opens up with her, who knows what the book’s going to look like when it’s done,
but as of now, that’s the beginning, because it opens up with her testimony at the House
UnAmerican Activities Committee, where she’s trying to explain to these congresspeople
what it was like when she left the Soviet Union, and they are just befuddled by it.
Can you explain she did not laugh?
Well, because the first line of the Fountainhead, spoiler alert, is Howard Rourke laughed.
So this is a little inversion of that.
It says Ayn Rand did not laugh, because Ayn Rand was a huge fan of America, as am I.
She took our political system very seriously.
She had enormous reverence for institutions.
One example of this is one of the villains of the Atlas Shrugged is based on Harry Truman.
I think Thompson is the character’s name.
And because she had such respect for the title of president, she refers to him as the chairman.
She couldn’t even bring herself…
She had a huge respect for the presidency.
I wonder if she’d still have it, given the last string of presidents we’ve had.
So having her, which sets up the broader point of the book, which I’m sure I’ll be back on
the show to discuss, assuming this bridge hasn’t been burned, but I’ll try my best.
All three of us are canceled.
Some are more canceled than the others.
I don’t know.
I’m looking at you, Michael.
And the point being, which sets up the broader point of the book, is how ignorant many people
are in the West about the horrors of Stalinism and communism, but also how many people in
the West were complicit in saying to Americans, go home, everything’s fine, this is great,
sure, you know, this is why pensions have a race, they’re sure they’re mistakes.
And they really made a point to downplay really gratuitously some of the unimaginable atrocities
of the communism.
And just one more sentence, and going through the work and learning about what they actually
did is so jaw dropping that it’s, and if I didn’t know about it, many people I’m friends
with who are historians who entered the space, you know, this isn’t common knowledge to them,
then we can assume that almost no one knows about it.
And I think it’s very important for people to appreciate whether Republican, Democrat,
liberal, whatever, how much of a danger this is.
And I think Americans have this, there’s a book called It Can’t Happen Here, I think
by Sinclair Lewis about a fascism coming to America.
American exceptionalism has a positive context, but also a negative context where you think
we’re invincible, all these horrible things that happen in these other countries, it can’t
possibly happen here, we’re America, we’re special, and it’s completely an absurdity.
Have you seen the movie, Mr. Jones?
My friend wrote it, no I haven’t, but Walter Durante and his quotes, I have a thread on
For those who don’t know, he won a Pulitzer because he was the New York Times man in Moscow.
And endlessly, he was talking about how great it was, how if you hear about this famine
in Ukraine, this is just propaganda, I went to the villages, you know, everyone’s happy
A lot of it was explicit lies, you know, and when you realize you’re talking about, let’s
give them the absolute benefit of the doubt, an accidental genocide, it’s still mind boggling.
And also, you know, Ann Applebaum, who’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal writer, she wrote
a book called Red Famine, Stalin’s War in Ukraine, and she talks about how what people
in America don’t appreciate is how clever in their sadism the Soviets were.
And what they knew to do to Ukraine is everyone is starving, so they knew if you got some
meat on your bones, you’re hiding food.
So they come back at night, take your hand, put in the door jam, keep slamming the door,
ransack your house.
They didn’t have to find the food, burn down your house, take all your clothes, goodbye
and good luck.
I don’t recall saying good luck.
So I highly recommend the movie because it’s very well done.
It’s very well directed, it’s beautifully made, it’s stunningly effective in illustrating
When you’re in Ukraine during the famine, oh, your heart goes, I mean, it’s crushing.
And it shifts to black and white.
It’s very, very well made aesthetically, so highly recommend.
And it’s written by Andriusha Lupa, she’s a Ukrainian friend of mine, she introduced
me, Yanmi Park, who’s a big North Korean defector.
And this is the kind of thing where I think more people need to…
When I wrote the new write, which talks a lot about the Nazis or the kind of neo Nazis,
on their big complaints against people who are Jewish, she’s like, oh, we hear all about
How come you don’t talk about the Holodomor?
I’m like, I’m trying to do my part.
I agree with you that we need to be talking more about the Holodomor.
And it’s sad, there are more movies that are anti Soviet, which tells you a lot about the
view of the intelligentsia.
It’s a great idea, it just was badly implemented.
And no, it’s a rotten idea, it’s an evil idea, and it was implemented exactly how it has
to be implemented.
There’s no alternative.
Can we talk about The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and which character do you find
most fascinating, ones that kind of you meet in your own mind, that you almost have conversations
with or has an influence on you and your life in general?
You know what character I like, because I know no one ever gives this answer, but this
Just aesthetically, you know how sometimes you’re drawn to a character and if this person
were real, you think they’re just horrible, but there’s something about the resonates
I can’t even explain this, but I love the character in Atlas Shrugged of Lillian Reardon,
who is Hank Reardon’s wife.
And what is amazing about her, so she’s his wife, he’s this big industrialist innovator,
and she’s this like former beauty, but she’s so cold and soulless that there’s…
I mean, I joke about, you know, Ayn Rand’s vampire novels, that character is as close
to a literal vampire as you’re going to see in Rand.
And there’s just this great scene where, you know, Hank Reardon invents Reardon metal.
It’s this great metal, which is extremely strong, but extremely, it’s like light, so
this creates all these innovations.
And he brings her a bracelet made of the first Reardon metal.
This is his life goal.
This is like Prometheus bringing fire.
And she’s like, what the fuck is this?
You brought me diamonds.
Yeah, you could have brought me diamonds.
What is this shit?
And then Dagny, who is another industrialist, she’s a heroine, very strong female character
in Atlas Shrugged, is at a party, and she goes, I got diamonds, let’s trade.
And Lillian’s like, you want this?
And she’s like, yes, because that’s the concretization of the human mind.
These are rocks.
And Lillian’s like, okay, whatever.
And that character is someone who has a lot of resonance in our culture, this kind of
It’s easy to write a soulless male figure, like Peter Keating in some ways a soulless,
but that for some reason, when it’s like a soulless female, it seems that much more chilling
Do you not agree though, that Lillian Reardon is an amazingly very powerful figure?
And I think Reardon is too.
And what I love about Reardon is his evolution, right?
He’s so flawed.
He’s a hero who’s completely flawed, and it drives me nuts when people say, her characters
are cartoonish, they never change, there’s no emotion.
Did you read the same book I did?
Because if you take Reardon, and he’s struggling and he’s trying to deal with Lillian and his
family and all this stuff, and we know family members like this, right?
I mean, who are leeches and parasites, but he’s excusing them because that’s what he’s
supposed to do.
And then as he evolves to fully realize what’s going on, that evolution is difficult, it’s
Like the scene after he has sex with Dagny, of course, he gives a speech, but the speeches
is such a good speech in terms of conveying his mind body split, right?
He thinks he really had fun, he really enjoyed the sex, right?
But he thinks it’s animalistic, and he thinks it’s a sign of his depravity, and he thinks,
and here he is, this woman he loves, and he adores her, and he can’t connect the two,
he can’t connect the sex with the love, he can’t connect the sex with adoration, and
with the values.
So her characters are anything I think but cardboard characters, because I think Dagny
and the scenes where she’s listening to music, and gets captured by the music and the way
Wren describes that, I think it’s just beautiful.
Or the scene, my favorite scene in Atlas is the scene where they’re taking the first train
ride across the John Gold Bridge, and they’re in the engine room, and it’s traveling through,
and the way she’s describing Dagny, it’s almost like Dagny’s having sex with the machine,
It’s so powerful emotionally, their success, the fact that they did it.
Nobody told them it was impossible, and the train is going really fast, and that whole,
it’s got a sexual vibe to it, it’s all about passion, it’s all about success, and it’s
all about the success of their minds, and nobody else matters.
What’s really great about that scene, just in terms of constructing the novel, I’m not
going to spoil anything, so the Atlas Shrugged has three acts, like three act structures
not uncommon, and the first act is about Hank Reardon overcoming all this adversity
at home in his personal life and in his business to create this great achievement.
So Rand really makes the reader invested in this character and his accomplishments, he’s
unambiguously doing something good, there’s no downside here, he’s making it easier to
transport people, transport food, this is really just great.
And it’s just, once you read it and you look back, you’re like, she does such a masterful
job of making, you have to be a fan of this person and root for them, because she’s like,
oh, you think things are going great, he’s overcome?
Hold on a minute.
And then the rest of it, she’s just real, and your sense of injustice is triggered as
a reader to such an nth degree, because you saw what he went through to get to this point,
and now you’re seeing it taken away from people inferior to him.
And one of the quotes on Twitter I use all the time is, I’ll see someone, politician
or a bureaucrat or a thinker, just advocate for something completely unconscionable.
And I’ll just quote and say, my favorite criticism of Ayn Rand is that they say her villains
are too evil and unrealistic, because the things that people posit with a straight face
are so much worse than she has in her book.
And not just politicians, you find intellectuals today.
Oh, of course.
So yeah, yeah.
Way, way over the top.
You know, even whenever Adlai Shrugged I was going, nobody really talks like this.
No, they do.
Let me give you one example.
There was a story she wrote, which she never published, they published her journals, the
Ayn Rand Institute.
And there was one character, and this is a prototype of Ellsworth Toohey, he was the
villain of one of the villains of the Fountainhead.
And basically, the kid had like deformed legs or broke his legs or something like that.
And he wants to get leg braces.
And the dad is like, Oh, we’re not going to do that.
Why should you be better than anyone else?
Like you should just have like this deformity, accept your fate.
And you’re reading this.
I’m like, what dad is not going to give his kid leg braces, it’s ridiculous.
But now it’s not uncommon for deaf children to not get cochlear implants and not be able
to hear because their parents say, well, we’re going to lose deaf culture.
Hearing is just information.
And you’re sitting there, and whether you agree with this or not, this is very close
to what she was saying.
And when I read what she was saying, I’m like, okay, crazy Ayn Rand, this is not a thing.
And it’s like, oh, yeah, the craziness is that it’s not braces, it’s hearing.
And what evil to deny your kid hearing.
I mean, God.
So here’s the thing, if you want deaf culture, which I would believe is a thing, sign language
or whatever, they could turn it off.
If you want, you give them the choice.
Tonight, I’m sorry, one more thing.
You know, Rand used the word evil frequently.
And I think maybe I can make the argument she used it too loosely.
If you are denying a child the gift of music, I will say that’s evil.
I agree completely.
If you go online and listen, watch videos of people getting hearing aids and being able
to hear for the first time, I promise you, you will cry because there’s no pure, I’m
getting teared up right now.
There’s no pure expression of humanity and technology at its best than seeing a two year
old or one and a half year old who can’t even talk.
And then you see the reaction when they hear mom’s voice.
It’s so beautiful and moving.
It’s just moving.
It’s like it’s one of the, one of the ways to rethink technology, perhaps.
And there’s this, this is really funny because sometimes it’ll be this tough dude, right?
And he’s been deaf all his life.
And then they put the hearing aid and the girl is like, can you hear me?
And he’s trying to be tough for three seconds and you just sit there.
And that’s true of any sense.
Like colorblind people seeing color for the first time, that kind of thing.
I think there’s a few.
It’s not quite the same, but it’s somewhat.
But if you’re blind and suddenly can see, I mean, it’s just, it’s just stunning.
I mean, and how do we form our concepts?
How do we think?
We have to, we get information from reality, right?
We interact with reality through our senses and that’s how we become conceptual beings.
And you deny an element of that from a human being.
That is horrible.
There’s a potential with that, with the Neuralink too, so further developments there.
So I mean on that, there’s a powerful question of who is John Galt.
I don’t know if we can do this without spoiler alerts.
Yeah, don’t spoil the book.
Well, but you can say, you can say.
What’s the importance of this character?
What’s the importance of this question?
I mean, without the, so I want to give a talk on who is John Galt and who is John Galt in
a sense is anybody who takes their own life seriously.
Anybody who’s willing to really live fully their own life, use their mind in pursuit
of their rational values and pursue their happiness fully uncompromisingly with no comp,
with no compromise and sticking to the integrity.
Anybody can be John Galt in that sense.
I think one of the mottos I live by is all we are tasked to, maybe this is a little bit
religious but I think your own is going to agree with it.
I’m sure you’ll agree with it.
All any of us can do is leave the world a little bit of a better place than we found
And I think if you do that through hard work, being honest, being a kind, not at the expense
of other people, you can go to your grave patting yourself on the back.
I mean, to me, leaving the world a better place, yeah, I mean, that’s not what drives
What drives me is, I mean, what I think drives people.
I think just live a good life and good life means a life you’re happy living and part
of that is the impact you have on the world but it’s, so many people live wasted lives,
live mediocre lives, live conventional lives.
Maybe they even leave the world a better place but they didn’t really, they didn’t –
But they didn’t leave the world a better place.
They left the world a better place but they didn’t live their potential or they died
feeling guilty about it or they – a million different things.
So there’s so many productive people.
I mean, think about all the innovators and the technologists and the businessmen who
leave the world a better place by a big shot but are never happy.
Never happy in their own souls, in their own life.
And to me, that’s what counts and if you’re going to be happy, you’ll leave the better
world a better place.
And that’s what Jean Val symbolizes.
To me, it’s living your life by your standards, by your values and pursuing that happiness.
Well, I take – I’m sorry, I take in a different context because I think a lot of – and I
don’t think you’re going to disagree with this.
I think a lot of times when you’re young, you have unrealistic expectations about what
you’re going to accomplish and you think to yourself, well, I thought, let’s suppose
someone wants to go into politics.
Well, if I’m not elected president, I’m a failure.
There’s lots of people who are successful who haven’t achieved literally the top position
in their role.
So if you can go to your grave having – defending everything you’ve done and you move the needle
in the –
Successes should not be relative.
So that goes back to second handedness.
Success is not being better than other people.
Success is not being the best.
Success is maximizing your potential, whatever that is.
And look, I know people – I have a son who could be a really good engineer, a really
good mathematician, really good scientist, but he decided he wants to write comedy.
So he might have been a better mathematician than he is a comedian, but that’s his values.
That’s his goals.
That’s what he wants to do.
And hopefully he’ll be really, really good at that and he’ll be incredibly successful
at it materially in every other sense, but that’s what you pursue.
So it’s really being true to yourself in a deep sense.
And if you are true to yourself, yeah, you’ll leave the world a better place, but that’s
not the essence.
The essence is you.
No, focus on you.
Focus on making your life the best life that it can be.
And if you do that, you’ll make the world a better place by – almost by definition.
You’ll impact people.
We’re looking at the same thing in different ways.
So at least in my little corner of the world, it was disappointing how rare that is.
So one of the reasons I’m here in Austin and one of the reasons my work gravitated
towards Elon Musk is because he represents that person for me in the world of technology,
in the world of CEO, in the world of business.
It was very surprising to me the more I’ve learned about the world of tech, how few people
live unapologetically, fully to their potential.
I’m sure people, others do that.
Maybe music and art.
I’m not sure.
I don’t know about those worlds.
I do know about the technology world.
And it was disappointing to me how many people compromise their integrity in subtle ways
at first, but then it becomes a slippery slope and then you –
Can I say this?
There’s this great quote and I always forget if it’s Steinbeck or Hemingway and the quote
– and this applies for money, it applies for morality – the quote was, how did you
And he says two ways, gradually and then suddenly.
It’s very hard to one day be like, I have no integrity.
That doesn’t happen.
It’s very easy if it’s like, look, I stole this candy bar.
What’s the big deal if I steal this thing?
Then you’re still –
People say there are no slippery slopes.
There are and they’re big and they’re very slippery and people slide.
This is the biggest one.
And people violate their integrity even without stealing.
Just little things about how they treat other people, how they treat themselves, the values
They don’t go after the profession they really wanted to.
They compromise in ways that they shouldn’t with their spouse or with their mothers or
And then they wake up one day when they’re 40.
And this is why people go through a midlife crisis.
Midlife crisis is a crisis where you suddenly realize, I didn’t do it.
I didn’t live up to my standards.
I didn’t live up to my youthful idealism.
I compromised and I sold out.
But I also would warn you about Silicon Valley.
Yeah, I think at the top very few of them stick to it and partially it’s the political
pressure is unbearable.
I mean, how would you?
How can you?
It would require to be a hero and very few of them are.
But there are a lot of people who do really well at all kinds of levels in technology
who – little startups, people.
And this is the point Michael was making.
You don’t have to be the best.
You know, you don’t have to be a CEO to live to your max and to live with integrity
and to live a great life.
I know people who because they joined Amazon or whatever have just made a life for themselves,
an amazing life for themselves and have done great work at Amazon let’s say and then
have lived a great life because of the opportunity that created for them.
So I think there are more good people out there but yes, one of the saddest things of
growing up is – or even when you’re a teenager and looking at adults and noticing
how few of them actually live, I mean really alive in a sense of living their values and
enjoying their life.
And you start with your parents and you look across the people, everybody lives such mediocre
And the other thing is they don’t have to.
That’s what people don’t appreciate.
They don’t have to.
Particularly not in the world that we live in today that’s so wealthy and so many – we
all have so many opportunities.
So what – by way of advice, what advice would you give to young people to live their
I mean Michael and I have talked about this but it bears repeating.
So if you look at John Galt, if you look at the highest ideals of what we – of a life
we could live, what advice would you give to a 20 year old today, 18 year old?
Can I say – I don’t think – and I think Rand would agree.
When Rand was writing John Galt, she says, when you have this character’s human perfection,
you don’t want to get too close.
So he’s a little bit of a vague character because she was aware that when you’re dealing
with day to day, it kind of – the shine comes off.
I think Rourke is a lot better character for a young person.
Yeah, but Rourke is all – the entirety of the Fountainhead is Rourke.
So Ed Reardon is the one of several.
We barely know John Galt.
So but Rourke is someone where you could be like, okay.
And what Rourke also gives young people is –
That’s in the Fountainhead.
That’s in the Fountainhead, is the strength to persevere.
Because when you’re young, you’re going to have down times.
There’s going to be times when you’re lonely.
There’s going to be times when you don’t have a girlfriend.
There’s going to be times when you’re out of work and you’re thinking, holy crap, I’m
falling between the cracks.
I’m going to accomplish that.
I’m going to be a failure.
And he gives them the courage.
There’s even a scene in the Fountainhead, which is this amazing scene.
I love that it’s not talked about enough where basically Rourke is looking at one of
his buildings and this little kid on a bicycle comes up to him and – Yaron, please correct
And he’s like, who built this?
And Rourke said, I did.
And the line is, you know, Rourke didn’t realize it, but he just gave that kid the
courage to face the lifetime.
And I think that is such a beautiful thing where you can find inspiration in this character.
Don’t become needlessly difficult.
Don’t start parroting his lines.
You’re not Howard Rourke and he’s not a real person.
But there’s aspects of him that you can apply to your life.
And here’s something else.
I’ll give you one example because this happened to me.
When I was working at Goldman Sachs, I was doing tech support and my great grandmother
had passed away that year.
And I promised my grandmother I would have – I’ve told this story several times.
I would have Thanksgiving dinner with her.
I was working second shift, fort to midnight, and we were a 24 seven help desk.
And I got the schedule for the next week and I sold my grandmother to have lunch with
her at Thanksgiving.
And they had put me down from fort to midnight the day before Wednesday, which is my normal
shift, but then the day shift the next day.
And I go to my boss, I go – first off, second shift, I’m like, this Thanksgiving, I promised
And they’re like, well, if you could find someone to fill this, we’ll do it.
And I asked everyone.
They’re like, no.
And I said, I’m not coming in.
And I 100%, not even a question, if I asked my grandmother, can we have dinner instead,
she would have said yes.
But this was one of those moments, maybe this is from my huge ego where I felt like I was
in a movie and I’m making a choice.
Am I going to ask grandma?
Or am I going to just bend the knee?
And I go, I go, I couldn’t find anyone and I go, I’m not coming in.
And they go, if you’re not coming in, you’re fired.
And I go, fire me.
And they did fire me.
And I have no regrets.
And because if I compromised, I’d have money in my pocket.
But since I didn’t compromise, I could look at that story.
Rand talks about how man is a being of self made soul.
I could look at that story, and next time, I have a time where it’s a tough decision,
where there’s really pressure, I could be like, you know what, this is the kind of person
Stick to it.
I’ll give one more example.
Sorry, you’re on.
I’ve given talks on networking.
And I tell people, I like to use humor, because humor is a great way to shortcut the brain
and get the truth to them directly.
I say, if you know someone is in town, it’s their birthday, and they’re not doing anything,
take them out.
And I say, I do this for Rand reasons.
I do it selfishly.
And the audience laughs.
And I go, you’re laughing.
But I go, the guy who takes people out for their birthday is awesome.
That could be you.
There’s nothing stopping you.
You’re just not thinking in these terms, what’s it going to cost you $30?
But for the rest of their life, or a few years, that person will remember you and be like,
you know what, this person did right by me.
And I’ll give you a concrete example, which changed my life profoundly.
Ted Hope, who was the producer of the film American Splendor, which starred my mentor
Harvey Pekar, sent an email to his firm that said Harvey’s in town with nothing to do.
If you want to hang out with him, here’s your chance.
They worked at a film company.
And I was the only one, I got the email, I wasn’t working there from a friend who took
him up on it.
And as a consequence, Harvey wrote a graphic novel about me, Ego and Hubris, which is $250
on eBay now, and it moves at that, not too shabby.
The point being, you know what, someone had a movie made about him.
Someone is an interesting figure.
Take the lunch and stay overtime for an hour.
But so many people don’t think in those terms.
And there’s so many opportunities for them.
And so that’s the advice I give.
And I think it’s also good to give advice via anecdote.
So not only is the person getting the advice, they are learning why you got to that point.
And maybe I’m wrong, but at least they’ve thought about it.
Yeah, I mean, I agree with all of that.
And I like the line, Ayn Rand’s line about man is a self made soul, is a creature of
self made soul is huge.
And it’s something most people don’t realize, and it’s something that modern intellectuals
I mean, even somebody like Sam Harris, when you keep telling people they don’t have free
will, then you don’t have a self made soul.
Because what is self made, there is no self, according to Sam, right?
He meditates and he sees that he doesn’t have a self.
So you’re undermining the ability of people to take control of their own lives and make
the kind of choices that are necessary to create the kind of moral character that is
necessary for them to be successful.
So I’d encourage people to go read Foundhead and Atlas Shrugged because put aside the politics,
put aside even aspects of the philosophy, focus on these models.
How to Walk is a great model for all of us.
It’s a great story to have in your head, in your mind when you encounter challenging choices
that you might make.
And then spend the time, and this is, I don’t think I ever did this when I was young, I
don’t think people do this, but spend the time thinking about what your values really
What do you love doing?
What makes, what gets you going?
What gets you excited?
And how can I make a living at this?
How can I do this and live through this?
And then, you know, think about what kind of life you want, what kind of, I don’t know,
what kind of people you want to hang out with.
Don’t just, don’t let life just happen to you.
Think it through.
What kind of people, for example, if you want ambitious, excited, maybe you should move
to Silicon Valley, to Austin, Texas, right?
If you want to be around artsy people, I mean, you should go to Hollywood, maybe you should
go to New York, you know, I don’t know, but figure out what kind of life you want to live,
what kind of people you want to hang out with, what kind of woman you want to spend your
life with, what kind of romantic relationship you want to have, figure that out and go and
Don’t sit around.
Life is not…
Or try and fail.
You’re going to fail.
Oh, failure, failure, absolutely.
And learn from that failure.
And that’s another thing.
Think about what you’re doing, why you’re succeeding, why you’re failing, and keep improving.
Keep working on it because it’s not just going to happen like this.
Nobody is Francisco to take a character out of Atlas Shark, to succeed at everything,
first try, right?
We all need to fail a few times.
We all need to, but what have you got to lose?
Every second is never going to be back.
I mean, these are all cliches, but they’re all true cliches.
So think, figure out what your values are, and try to apply your reason, your rational
thought on getting those values.
We talked about early on in the show, in the interview, we talked about integrating your
emotions with your cognition.
I think that’s crucial because you don’t want to be fighting your emotions as you move towards
You don’t want your emotions to be barriers to your own success.
You want them to be cheerleaders, to chew on when good things happen and to be negative
emotions when it’s justified that they’re negative.
So work on integrating your soul.
So creating your own soul, that’s the real challenge.
And I’ll give one piece of meta advice.
When you’re young, you’re going to be clueless because you’re going to be ignorant, you know
Don’t ask your dopey friends for advice because they want to be helpful, but the friends want
to be helpful.
They’re as dopey as you.
They have uninformed as you.
So they’re just going to give you platitudes and you’re going to be worse off because now
you’re going to be confused, especially with social media.
Reach out to people who are older than you, who are accomplished.
You’d be surprised how often that you got to send them 20 bucks, buy them dinner, buy
their book, whatever it takes.
You are getting free world class advice for very cheap and that is really a mechanism
And here’s something very unpopular and not sexy.
This is why people probably unfollow me.
That’s not why.
Well, you’ll tell me why after this.
Read, read, read.
Because you’re not always going to have access to those experts.
And I’m not just talking about self help books.
I’m not even talking about self help books.
Read the words with literature.
I mean, literature presents you with all the different characters.
You know, read Dostoevsky, right?
Read Hugo, right?
Read all these authors that have taken time to really create characters and put them in
situations that maybe you will never face those exact situations, but you’ll face similar
situations and they play it out for you.
You’ll see what the consequences are.
Great literature is a real tool for building your soul.
Read generally with literature and particularly because it’s more conceptual.
What maybe you could speak to love and relationship in your own life, but in general, if we look
at Alice Shrugged, if we look at Fountainhead, and maybe this is going to become a therapy
session for Lex, but also just looking at your own life in a form of advice, how can
you be a heroic Reardon type character and live your life to the fullest in creating
the most amazing things that you’re able to create and yet have others in your life that
you give yourself to in terms of loving them fully and having a family, having kids, but
just even just the love of your life kind of thing.
How do you balance those things together?
Is there any anything to say?
I’ll say one thing because then I’ll defer to you, Ron, because he’s the one who’s married
I don’t think it’s a balance.
I think they compliment each other and feed off each other.
So it’s like, how do you balance having shoes and pants?
It’s like, no, you want both.
You want it all.
And having a great partner who thinks you’re a badass and then sometimes they’re on the
stage and you’re like, oh my, I’m married to a badass.
That’s the goal.
Am I wrong?
It feeds off of each other.
It’s completely synergetic.
The problem that people have, I think, where they get into challenges is when they view
them as opposites, right?
Work or family.
Well, if you don’t work the family, you can’t finance the family, but more than that.
Why is your wife going to love you?
What are the virtues that you’re bringing?
If you don’t maximize your own potential, if you don’t live the best life that you can
live, what is it to love?
And if she doesn’t do the same thing, why do you love her?
So you don’t get this conflict between work and, you know, how do I have a balanced life?
Of course you have a balanced life.
You balance it based on your values and it’s never going to be the same.
The balance is, you know, the time you spend at work and with family when you’re young
or when you have little kids or when they’re grown up is all going to be different.
It’s going to depend on your priorities at the point, but it’s all going to feed off
of each other.
So maybe another word outside of balance is sacrifice.
Do you think relationship involves sacrifice or no?
Does he know what he’s doing?
He’s trolling you.
Is he trolling me?
He’s a big troll.
Is he trolling me?
Lex is the biggest troll on Twitter.
Deal with it.
But see, he means sacrifice in the context.
So I’m going to define it.
Sacrifice in my world.
Can I say one thing before we get sidebar?
Rand had a good example when he was talking about balance.
So she was married to this guy, Frank O. Connor.
He was not a cerebral.
He was not intellectual.
She was in love with him.
She was a fan.
And a lot of times she’d have these conversations with her acolytes till like four in the morning
about the most cerebral topics.
And I said, he would always bring them food.
He’d stay up and kind of sit there in a corner and I go, when this was happening, was he
sitting there like, oh God, here goes crazy old Ein and I just got to be bored?
And they go, absolutely not.
He was so proud of her.
He was so excited.
In fact, when she got a lot of money from, I think selling Red Pawn, which was her screenplay,
which never produced, he told her you can buy any kind of fur coat as long as it’s
Mink, he’s like, you earn this, celebrate it, so that was a good example.
And that’s a good relationship, absolutely. Now, sacrifice is the giving of a value and
expecting either nothing or something less in return. You don’t do that in a love relationship.
Your love relationship is a sense, a trait. You’re constantly trading. You’re not trading
materially, but you’re trading spiritually. Imagine if I only gave my wife, if I gave
spiritually and materially, only in one direction. I’d get sick of it. She’d get sick of it. It
would never last. It has to be in give and take constantly, in different ways, different values.
It’s not a monetary exchange, but it’s constantly you’re giving and you’re receiving and you’re
giving. And that’s got to be in balance. And I know a lot of relationships where that gets out
of balance. And one party feels like they’re giving all the time, they’re sacrificing.
They’re giving more than they’re receiving, in a sense. And it’s over.
Now, people use the word sacrifice, like Jordan Peterson. He uses it both ways. That’s a problem.
You know Jordan?
I don’t know him personally. Jordan Peterson, I said. I didn’t call him Jordan.
Just wanted to be clear.
Yeah. He uses it in his talks as… Sometimes he uses it just as I described it,
and he’s supportive of that, like the sacrifice Jesus made. And sometimes he uses it as an
investment. But it’s not. If you’re giving money now, expecting a bigger return in the future,
that’s not a sacrifice. That’s an investment. That’s why we have two concepts for that.
And the same is true if my wife is ill. And I’ve got a whole relationship built around what I’m
giving. It’s not that I’m not getting anything back. What I’m getting back is that she is
recovering. Is that she’s still alive or whatever it is that I’m keeping. That’s the value that I’m
getting in return. If I’m not getting that, why am I doing it? Because I signed a contract a long
time ago. So it’s not a sacrifice. Children are not a sacrifice. If I don’t go to the movies,
because I stay at home with my kids, it’s because I love my kids more than I love going to the
movies. And if I love going to the movies more than I love staying with the kids, then get a
babysitter or don’t have kids, which is the better approach. Here’s a question. What book did Ayn Rand
say is the most evil book in all of serious literature? It was Anna Karenina. And the reason
it was that book, which I haven’t read, please correct me if I get the plot wrong. What Rand was
saying is the plot is a guy who’s a big shot, I think. He marries a stupid girl who has nothing
of value to offer him for at all. And she ends up killing herself. Whereas Rand’s version, and we
can take this out of the romantic context. I am delighted when I could be of use to my friends.
It makes me feel wonderful and not in a kind of parasitic way. It’s just like that I’m at a
certain point where they call me up, they’re having a problem and I’ve helped them with that problem.
Anna Karenina, he gives up the love of his life. Oh, is that what it is? The amazing girl.
He has an affair with her outside of marriage, taints her, is married to the stupid, but she gives
him the prestige and everything. Oh, that’s clearly very anti Rand. And the smart, the one he loves,
she commits suicide in there. Okay, I got it wrong. So it’s about him choosing
mediocrity and nothingness over love. So pursuing your values is so crucial. So don’t take it by
saying, it doesn’t mean that if you want to eat Chinese and she wants to eat Italian, you don’t
once in a while eat Italian on that day, right? That’s silly, right? That’s not a sacrifice,
not in the sense in which we’re talking about. It doesn’t mean don’t compromise. It doesn’t mean
don’t compromise on the day to day stuff. It means don’t compromise on moral values. You don’t
compromise on the big stuff and you never sacrifice. And that way you have a relationship
that’s built as equals and as you admire each other and love at the end of the day is a response
to value. If you stop undermining your own value, the person who loves you will stop loving you,
will love you less. If you love yourself less, you have to say, in order to say I love you,
you have to be able to say the I, right? You have to be somebody, you have to know yourself,
you have to have value. And so love is a profound emotional response to value.
So speaking of love and the three of us being on this deserted island for a time together,
somehow not murdering each other, let me ask you, Yaron, Michael, what is the most beautiful thing
you find about the other? So let’s go Yaron first. What do you think about Michael,
that you appreciate about him? What do you get these questions from? What do you love about Michael?
Then he’s going to edit it. See, that makes sense to me. I just programmed him.
Press play. It’s all just a prerecorded message. So I’ve never met Michael before,
so this is my… That’s not true. You have and you’re…
I don’t remember ever meeting Michael before. You’re the very beginning of the new right,
is me meeting you. I’m in the book?
Yes. All right. Well, now I have to read his book
because I mean, am I presented positively or negatively?
Very. Oh, okay. Good.
Lex is not so sure. He’s like…
I like that he goes, have I presented positively or negatively? I just go, very.
And he’s like, oh, good. I’m like, is it?
So Michael Sharp, he’s quick. He’s funny, although some of the humor is beyond me.
That’s a nice way of saying he’s very intelligent.
Yeah. He’s definitely very intelligent, but also very engaging. I think that’s very engaging.
I’m a sharp dresser.
Oh, he’s definitely… Well, yeah. I compliment him on stuff that’s obvious
and everybody can see by the video. The sex appeal.
Let me also just comment, one thing you mentioned about
you deriving joy from being of value to your friends.
People talk to me about you sometimes because you’ll do humor about various things and things
like maybe you’re some kind of a crazy person or something like that.
Yeah. I know you enjoy this aspect of it, but I say that the reason I’m friends with Michael
is there’s real love there. And the kind of kindness you give to your friends,
to people that are close to you, to your family is amazing, man.
So that’s one of my favorite things about you. Your intellect aside, your philosophies aside,
your humor aside, I think there’s a lot of love in you. That’s what I really appreciate.
But enough about you. I’m actually getting sick of saying nice things about you.
You’re always going to say it.
Take it all back.
Can I say one thing? You’re joking, but this is something that’s very key and this is something
in a random context. It is very disturbing, and this is not by accident, how in our culture it is
pooh poohed to show kindness, earnestness, appreciation, to tell someone. You see this
on Twitter where someone’s like, you know what? I read your book. It’s made my life a lot better.
Okay, simp. And there’s a real, and this very much comes out of urban media circles,
there’s this real disdain for showing appreciation, for showing happiness, for showing kindness.
And now that I’ve called it out, you’ll notice it. But when you see how common it is and how people
can’t take compliments, the effects of that are extreme and extremely negative.
I got to say about Texas, one of the things, so Austin especially, I mean, I don’t really
fully know Texas, Texas, but Austin, the friendliness. There’s a reason I’ve gotten
fatter and been drinking a lot is all the friendliness from random people who are no
longer random. They’re just friends. I’ve made more friends in one week than I have in my entire
stay in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Exactly. One and a half. You know what the number two means?
I’ve never counted up that high. So this is what happens when people are free.
No. When people are free and individualistic,
it’s exact opposite of what people believe. The more collectivist we are, the less free we are,
the nastier we are to one another. Individualists who are pursuing their own happiness are incredibly
kind, friendly, and supportive people. Okay. And now your task with doing…
Talk about bad juju.
To practice what you preach, is there in your soul that you can find one beautiful thing to
say about Yaron now that you guys met for the first, second, or third time, or at least in
book format? So that’s an easy one. So what I like about Yaron is that I think he is taking
one of the problems with maybe more old school objectivism is that they would just use Rand’s
arguments in Rand’s way. And it’s like, you’re a parent, you’re not adding anything, and you’re
not going to be better than her. So you give this talk about, I think you can compare, was it Bill
Gates to who was the one who went to jail? Oh, Bernie Madoff.
To Bernie Madoff. And you make the point, you’re like, does anyone here really think Bernie Madoff
was happy? Like, yeah, he’s successful and he’s wealthy, but does he go to bed being like,
hey, I’m a great guy? No. And his son kills himself with all this tragedy that goes with him.
So I think anyone who takes an ideology or worldview that I think is of value and adds to it
and makes it and articulates it in a new way, I think is a great accomplishment. I like how
uncompromising you are in your views of putting her views forward. And I like how you illustrate
how silly it is to argue against anarchism. So I don’t really have to do any of the work.
As for you, and this, I’ve thought this before many times, you’re the first person I met who
I come at, literally the first, other than my friend who I went to yeshiva with as a kid,
who I come at us, there was a line on friends where Ross and Rachel were thinking of dating,
right? And they go, if we start dating, it would be like the third date because they knew each
other well. And then she’s like, yeah, but it’d be like, so it’s like a plus and a minus, like,
yeah, you’re fast forwarding to seriousness, but it’s also the fact that you and I have the same
background. Like I can sit with your own or any of my other friends and try to explain it. The fact
that intuitively you and I grew up the same. And I know that we have that background in common
does create a bond because I feel even if I haven’t told you certain things, you are going
to understand me a lot better than many of my friends who’ve known me for a long time. I also
really like how I feel. This is a very new age term, but I’m going to use it. I feel very seen
when I talk to you. I think you see me for who I am. You appreciate me for who I am. And I also
really like how, and this is increasingly common as my platform increases. So I’m very flattered
by this. You understand what I’m trying to do and you don’t try to get in the way, even though it’s
your show. You’re like, okay, this guy’s a performer. He’s doing his thing. People appreciate
it. I appreciate it. I’m not going to try to drive the car. And I think some people who are who are
bad and I have not encountered this because I would shoot it down. But I think a lot of times
people have a tendency when they’re hosts to try to drive the car. And it’s like these things work
when we come in here. None of us prepare. You prepare by me. None of us talking beforehand
and like make it spontaneous. And the audience really enjoys that more because they know it’s
real earnest and dynamic. Yeah. I enjoy having you drive the car, even though I believe you don’t
have a license. And you think we’re going to crash. No, I think he’s, he’s an extraordinary
interviewer because of all those things. He makes you feel visible. And, and he does, but he also
comes across as really honest. The questions are really questions that you seem really interested
in that you really want answers to. It doesn’t come across as canned or I prepared my three
book project. Thank you. Thank you, Michael. I was pretty sure that on a desert island,
this would end in murder, but now I believe it may. Well, given his comments on anarchy,
it might still. It might still. The day is young. The night is young. This is a huge honor. I’ve
been a fan of both of you separately for a long time. I really appreciate wasting all this time
with me today. I love you, Michael. I love you, Yaron. We love you too. Thanks for listening to
this conversation with Michael Malice and Yaron Brook. And thank you to ground news, public goods,
athletic greens, brave and four Sigmatic. Check them out in the description to support this
podcast. And now let me leave you with some words from Karl Marx. Surround yourself with people who
make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely
care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.