YouTube Star Reads from The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff
“Oh, hi there,” says Carl Benjamin in a recent video, looking up at the camera from his well-bookmarked copy of The Ominous Parallels by Leonard Peikoff. “I’ve been doing some reading, and I’ve discovered something I think you should know. The Nazis were bad. Let me explain to you why.”
Benjamin’s deadpan introduction gives way to a sustained and serious reading of verbatim excerpts from two chapters — “Hitler’s War Against Reason” and “The Ethics of Evil” — in Peikoff’s book. “Hitler was counting on a widespread anti-reason attitude, an attitude that no political party by itself could have created or sustained,” Benjamin begins. Almost seven minutes later he ends his string of quotations with:
There are only two fundamental methods by which men can deal with one another: by reason or by force, by intellectual persuasion or by physical coercion, by directing to an opponent’s brain an argument — or a bullet. Since the Nazis dismiss reason out of hand, their only recourse is to embrace the second of these methods. The Nazi ethics completes the job of brute-worship: altruism gives to the use of force a moral sanction, making it not only an unavoidable practical recourse, but also a positive virtue, an expression of militant righteousness.
“Social justice” in this view not only allows but demands the use of force against the non-sacrificial individual; it demands that others put a stop to his evil. Thus has moral fervor been joined to the rule of physical force, raising it from a criminal tactic to a governing principle of human relationships.
In the video’s remaining minute, Benjamin summarizes his understanding of Peikoff’s points and endorses them, ending with: “And I think it’s unavoidable for any political philosophy that follows these principles to end up every bit as oppressive, violent and bloody as the Nazis themselves.”
In its first two days, this video attracted more than 302,000 views and almost 10,000 comments on YouTube.
Who is Carl Benjamin? On social media — including YouTube, where his channel has amassed 696,000 subscribers since 2013 — the 37-year-old Englishman, who’s a married father of two, is known as Sargon of Akkad. The popular commentator provides highlights of his personal and professional story, including the origin of that unusual online name, in this interview from last year with Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report.
“This is the kind of exposure that Objectivism needs if our ideas are going to reach a broader audience of thinking individuals,” said Steve Simpson, the Ayn Rand Institute’s director of Legal Studies. “YouTube stars like Carl Benjamin and Dave Rubin are attracting an audience that is dissatisfied with what they hear from both left and right today. They are often self-described ‘classical liberals’ — people who support individualism, freedom of thought and speech, and who are generally pro-science and typically not religious. As Dave Rubin said to me not long ago, a growing number of young people today are ‘starved for ideas.’ We have the ideas they need, and we’ve been working very hard in recent years to bring those ideas to their attention.”
The video can be watched here. Note: A condensed version of The Ominous Parallels was published in 2014 as The Cause of Hitler’s Germany and contains both the chapters from which Benjamin reads in his video. More on Leonard Peikoff is here.