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A First Look into ARI’s Recent Successes in Europe

As Ayn Rand’s ideas continue to gain interest across Europe, ARI responded by launching ARI Europe in January 2015. Over the past year and a half, and with funding from European businessmen, ARI has established a strong presence throughout the continent by engaging with young people at universities, partnering with local think tanks and working closely with other European free-market organizations.

During his October tour of Eastern Europe, ARI executive chairman Yaron Brook experienced high interest in Rand’s ideas and a generally positive reaction to the talks he gave on subjects ranging from philosophy to the morality of capitalism, inequality to entrepreneurship.

On October 13, Brook delivered a talk titled “Capitalism Without Guilt: The Moral Case for Freedom,” at the University of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania. The following day, he spoke at the Romanian-American University a second time, giving a talk titled “The Moral Case for Inequality and Entrepreneurship.” Among those in attendance, very few were familiar with the free-market thinking Brook presented. As you’d expect, the discussion was lively and the questions abundant.

Brook was interested to learn that a Polish ambassador to Romania sat in the audience. His daughter, who insisted he attend, is studying at Oxford University and had seen Brook speak on two separate occasions in London.

“You never know who will be in the audience and what connections we’re making,” Brook states. “As ARI works to leverage digital media on Facebook, YouTube and ARI Campus, we can reach people across the globe with virtually zero cost. It’s exciting to see this impact in person.”

The tour of Europe continued with stop-offs in Greece and Russia. While in Greece, Brook continued his discussion on the morality of capitalism at the European Students for Liberty’s 2016 Athens Regional Conference in Athens, Greece. That evening, Brook spoke to roughly thirty people at the headquarters of KEFIM, a free-market think tank based in Athens. The organizers are affiliated with the Aristotelian Center for Reason and Objectivism, which is increasing awareness of Objectivism locally through publishing efforts, book clubs and educational seminars with funding from the Objectivist Venture Fund.

Given the fact that books such as Rand’s The Fountainhead, We the Living, The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal are in wide circulation in Greece, not to mention Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government authored by Brook and ARI’s Don Watkins, awareness and understanding among this audience was much greater. The focus turned to how citizens of Greece, a country in turmoil, are beginning to rethink the prevailing values.

Russia was a different experience altogether. Brook’s talk, titled “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand,” at the Adam Smith Center of Market Research in Moscow was a small event that took place in a basement. Still, there was a strong awareness of Rand and her ideas, no doubt spurred on by the surge in Russian book sales in recent years.

“There’s a certain existential angst in Eastern Europe,” Brooks says. “People remember communism, lived under fascism even, and they are passionate about an alternative. There’s not the complacency we’ve witnessed in the United States.”

To find out how you can support ARI Europe, contact Annie Vinther Sanz at avsanz@aynrandeurope.org.

Image: Studio EM Romania