Around the World in 44 Days

Yaron Brook, ARI’s executive chairman, is no stranger to intercontinental visits to support the Institute’s goal of building awareness and understanding of Ayn Rand’s ideas. His recent trip, however, is one for the books.

Brook’s speaking engagements took him around the world, in this case quite literally. In forty-four days — from May 3 to June 15 — he traveled west to Tokyo, Japan, and continued on his route until the final destination in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for ARI’s annual Objectivist summer conference. The goal? To discuss Rand’s ideas in areas where interest is burgeoning and, in some cases, to present them as a beacon of light in countries crippled by socialist principles.

World Tour – Week 1

Week one included stops in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, as well as Seoul, South Korea. In Tokyo, Brook, with the help of local Objectivist Yoichi Tamura who served as a translator, led a full-day seminar on the Objectivist ethics and politics. It included several breakout sessions where the fifty-plus participants had the opportunity to discuss the ideas with one another.

“The conversation throughout the day kept coming back to ethics and what rational self-interest really means and implies,” Brook said. “It was a highly engaged group and they were serious about understanding the real life application of Objectivist philosophy.”

Then it was on to Kyoto and Doshisha University for a lecture and Q&A titled “Ayn Rand and the American Political Culture.” It was a smaller group due largely to the fact that the event occurred during the university vacation. This primarily English-speaking audience was less familiar with Objectivism but still eager to discuss Rand’s view on political philosophy applied to the Trump era.

The week concluded with two events in Seoul, the first of which was with an Ayn Rand Meetup group organized by expatriate Jeremy Kidder. The audience included expatriates from the United States, Canada, Australia as well as native Koreans. It was Brook’s first-ever event in South Korea, and he discussed some of the ideas in his book Equal Is Unfair. Click here to view the talk.

He followed it up with a presentation at the prestigious Mont Pelerin Society—his fourth for this group to date. Brook spoke there on inequality, this time before some of the world’s most renowned economists (including two Nobel Prize winners in economics), political theorists and academics.

World Tour – Week 2

Next stop China, where Carl Barney, ARI board member and founder of the Objectivist Venture Fund (OVF), joined Brook over a three-day period. First, Brook and Barney spoke in Hangzhou at a half-day seminar on Rand and the morality of entrepreneurship for a Market Ethics course at Zhejiang Goshang University. More than fifty scholars and entrepreneurs participated in a lively discussion.

On to Beijing for two full days of seminars. The first, at Unirule, a free-market think tank, focused on Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (to be published in Chinese this year). Brook gave two talks — “Individualism and Collectivism in Ayn Rand” and “Ayn Rand’s Thought and Implications for China.” Barney spoke on his experiences using the virtue of rationality in his personal and business life. Chinese academics were both speakers and presenters at the event.

“At one point, I was approached by one of the participants who told me he was an active member of the Communist party and that he found the idea of individualism very provocative,” Brook said. “As he should.”

The second Beijing event was scheduled for Renmin University and titled “The Virtue of Selfishness and the Market.” However, some at the university did not take kindly to the subject and a last-minute cancellation forced the event to be moved to a nearby hotel. Other than that, the event proceeded as planned with Brook and Barney as well as local scholars delivering talks.

No rest for the weary as Brook and Barney departed Beijing for Mongolia to speak at a daylong conference on Ayn Rand in Ulaanbaatar.

“There is a lot of frustration in Mongolia,” Brook noted. “The hope that grew as the formerly communist country established a democracy has dissipated because of political corruption. Mongolians know they don’t want communism but don’t have a clear idea of what freedom is and what a rights-respecting government really looks like.”

ARI partnered with Amina Tsenguun, her father and the rest of her family to host and arrange the events in the hope of laying a foundation of change. Amina attended Objectivist Summer Conference 2016 in Bellevue, Washington.

The event itself was professionally executed at a local hotel. More than 120 people paid to attend (mid week), including well-known politicians, musicians and local intellectuals. The event, titled “Ayn Rand in Mongolia,” was covered by a number of local media outlets. Brook gave two talks and Q&As over four hours. Barney also delivered a talk, as did Tsenguun and a famous local musician, who described Rand’s significant impact on his life.

Photos from the visit to Mongolia can be viewed here. You can view one of Brook’s presentations, on Rand’s politics, from the conference in Mongolia here. His portion begins at minute forty-eight. Brook also participated in several media interviews during his stay, one of which is currently available to view on YouTube.  

World Tour – Week 3

Students For Liberty and the Lion Rock Institute hosted Brook in Hong Kong May 18 and 19 for a student event, dinner talk and reception. This was a follow-up to a prior 2016 visit in which Brook discussed the Objectivist perspective on self-interest. The event was a success, so this year they invited him back to talk about Equal Is Unfair.

Back at home ARI will welcome Regina Tang from the Lion Rock Institute as a summer intern. Tang is a student at the University of Hong Kong where she is studying politics and public administration.

From Hong Kong to Israel — Brook didn’t lose steam as he prepared for a packed schedule that included two debates, one on inequality for Students For Liberty Israel, attended by roughly one hundred young people, and the other on capitalism versus socialism for approximately 250 students at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

He then took part in the second annual Atlas Award Ceremony at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Carl Barney, John Allison, Julie Meyer and others spoke at the event, as did Brook. The ceremony was sponsored by Barney’s OVF and made possible by the Ayn Rand Center Israel, TheMarker and Deloitte. It included 150 entrepreneurs and investors as well as leaders from Israel’s top-ten startup companies. Stay tuned for more about this exciting event and other developments in Israel.

“Witnessing firsthand the impact of seed money granted by the OVF was most satisfying,” Barney says. “The events in Japan, China, Mongolia and Israel were sponsored by the OVF and show the level of international interest in Ayn Rand’s ideas. It is clear that there is serious interest in Rand’s ideas globally.”

World Tour – Week 4

Free speech, fake news, inequality and capitalism were among the topics when Brook stopped at Oxford University, England, to close out the month. Then he headed back to the states, but not home just yet. There was an important stop at Clemson University in South Carolina for the 2017 Foundations of a Free Society Conference, which explored the moral and political foundations of a free society and a free economy. Brook participated in a panel discussion on the meaning and significance of Trumpism.

World Tour – Week 5 and 6

Brook had a brief and welcome break just before the final leg of the tour, the grand finale, Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and 500-plus fans of Rand came together to celebrate productive heroes at the center of industrial America and to honor the 60th anniversary of Atlas Shrugged.

A fitting end to truly a productive trip.

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