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Atlas Summit 2012 Videos



The Experience of Freedom

In this talk on free will, David Kelley focuses, not on the classic issue of how freedom of choice relates to causal determinism, but on the inner experience of freedom. We experience free will in many forms and contexts. To explore this variety, he discusses three particular modes of experience: self-control of impulse, meditation, and flow. What are the similarities and differences among these experiences? In which of them do we experience free will most clearly? In addressing these questions, Kelley draws on the Objectivist theory of volition and on the work of psychologists
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Objectivism, Public Policy, and Entrepreneurship

In this talk, delivered at the 2012 Atlas Summit, Professor Stephen Hicks presents an Objectivist perspective on entrepreneurship and public policy. Objectivism's ethical philosophy is highly entrepreneurial, emphasizing initiative, self-responsibility, and self-creation. Consequently, Objectivism's political philosophy is entrepreneurship-friendly, emphasizing the protection of individual rights necessary for entrepreneurs to be able to function and flourish. Beyond that, are there more specific government policies that Objectivism should promote to foster entrepreneurship--e.g., specific tax, immigration, or education policies? Further: given that we live in a sometimes-hostile-to-entrepreneurship culture, are there second-best policies that Objectivism should support to protect and encourage entrepreneurship in a mixed economy?
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Values in Atlas Shrugged (Part 1): Career

The heroes of Atlas Shrugged are rational, productive businesspeople. In Ayn Rand's thought, a career represents the central value in one's life, the means by which one supports oneself independently and reshapes the world. In this talk, William R Thomas discusses the value of a career of productive work in the context of the Objectivist philosophy and the events in the novel. He considers how Objectivist ethics apply to productive titans Hank Rearden and how they apply to ordinary workers like Eddie Willers.  Watch now >


Values in Atlas Shrugged (Part 2): Goodwill and Trust

Atlas Shrugged is a paean to rational selfishness. But it also contrasts the social vision of rational, independent cooperation versus collectivism and irrationalism. In this talk, William R Thomas discusses the social values of goodwill and trust, and shows how they are earned and lost in the novel. We see how Objectivist commitments to reason, achievement, happiness, justice, and liberty contribute to the development of goodwill and trust--and to one's ability to benefit from them.  Watch now> 

Poliics & Culture


Economic Warfare

This nation was founded on the principle of wealth creation. The government is supposed to promote the creation of an environment conducive to the creation of wealth--not job creation, not bailouts, not subsidies, not expansion of the federal bureaucracy, and not providing lifetime support to those who choose not to take advantage of the innumerable opportunities that exist in this nation for them to create a better, more productive life for themselves. Instead of economic success, today we have economic warfare, Ziad K. Abdelnour argues.   Watch now >

Political Capitalism: Warnings and Reality

With the failure of the Bush/Obama stimulus and scandals with “green jobs” (Solyndra, etc.), crony capitalism is on the hot seat. Big Government Republicans and Democrats find themselves on the defensive from the Tea Party on one side and Occupy Wall Street on the other.

In this talk, Robert L. Bradley, Jr. discusses the thinkers who have warned against the rise of political capitalism. And he presents the contrasting model of free-market capitalism, including John Hood's "heroic enterprise" aygh explored regarding how business should operate in the mixed economy where government favor can set up a clash between profit-maximization and free-market adherence.. Watch now >

Restoring the Constitutional Presidency (Part 1)

Has the U.S. Presidency effectively become an "absolute monarch" in the modern era as the Presidential powers have expanded far beyond the scope envisioned by the Constitution's framers? In this two-part talk law professor and author David N. Mayer shows how far we have departed from the Founders’ vision of a constitutionally-limited presidency, perhaps realizing during the 20th century Thomas Jefferson's fear that the Chief Executive would become essentially an “elective monarch,” with unbounded powers.

In Part 1, David surveys the early history of the Presidency and what the framers of the Constitution designed the office to be. He also looks at how the early presidents (through most of the 19th century) actually excercised their power. Using Thomas Jefferson’s presidency as a model, Part one also discusses the key limits the Constitution places on presidential powers – or, as Jefferson understood it, how the president is “bound by the chains of the Constitution.”  Watch now > 

Restoring the Constitutional Presidency (Part 2)

In this video, Part 2, Mayer communicates that what the modern record of Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, shows over the past 100 years or so, is that the office has in many respects been transformed into what Thomas Jefferson most feared, a tyrannical executive, in effect, an elective monarch--someone who acts as if he is not bound by the "chains of the Constitution."

Mayer discusses several types of abuse of power enacted by modern Presidents from both parties. He also discusses the Supreme Court decision on "Obamacare." (The Court's decision was delivered the day before Part 1 of Mayer's presentation.)  Watch now>

Milton Friedman and Liberty

2012 is the centenary of the birth of one of the greatest modern defenders of the free society, Milton Friedman (1912–2006). Bradley overviews Friedman's life and ideas, documenting how this technical economist became more libertarian and “radical” through his long, distinguished career.
While broadly libertarian, Friedman attracted voracious criticism from “Mr. Libertarian” Murray Rothbard and members of the Austrian School of economics, not to mention Objectivists critical of utilitarian ethics. Friedman's trenchant logic within the mainstream of thought, however, opened the door for out-of-the-mainstream intellectuals such as Rothbard, Mises, and Hayek to help foster today's libertarian resurgence.  Watch now  >

The Law and Morality of Insider Trading

The federal government has been pursuing insider trading aggressively as a form of “securities fraud,” but is there really any justification for condemning—legally or morally—the practice of trading on the best information one can get about a company? After briefly summarizing the law of insider trading, Cohen examines a variety of arguments against the practice and concludes that it ought to be legal, and that although at least some instances of insider trading are subject to moral criticism with respect to honesty, there is another respect in which insider trading can be morally praiseworthy.  Watch now > 

The Backdated Options Rich-Hunt: Hysteria and Persecution

In this video Roger Donway summarizes the findings contained in his new monograph about the backdated-options frenzy of 2005--2011. Specifically, he discusses the Pulitzer Prize-winning quest by Wall Street Journal reporters to defame and destroy scores of successful business executives; the broader media's efforts to expand and reinforce the Journal's hysterical rich-hunt; the governmental effort to fine and even imprison those executives that the media targeted; the heroic attempt of a few pro-business commentators to oppose the journalistic and governmental rich-hunt; and the despicable destruction of Greg Reyes, CEO of Brocade Communications Systems.
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John Stossel and guests: Atlas Shrugged and the Struggle for Liberty

John Stossel, host of the weekly FoxBusiness show “Stossel,” interviews noted movers and shakers of the Washington political scene. How has Atlas Shrugged inspired today's fighters for economic freedom? Join us for this special dinner and find out.
Grover Norquist, indefatigable head of Americans for Tax Reform, Reason founder Robert Poole, Jr., and Alexander McCobin, head of Students for Liberty, are interviewed by Stossel,  Watch now >


Applied Objectivism

"I am John Galt" 

In his book I Am John Galt, Donald Luskin argues that Nobel-winning economist and op-ed writer Paul Krugman is the perfect living embodiment of Ellsworth Toohey. The Fountainhead's hero Howard Roark famously said to Toohey, “But I don't think of you.” Roark's strategy was to ignore Toohey--life's too short. Luskin's strategy with Krugman was to engage him publicly, and the result was a smear campaign that nearly destroyed Luskin. He talks about what happens when libertarians and Objectivists dare to go public with their views, and take on the powers that be. The personal risks are enormous, and it partly explains why libertarian and Objectivist ideas are discussed so little in public forums. It also explains why only idiots end up running for public office.
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The Problem with "Selfishness" 

 In her book, The Virtue of SelfishnessAyn Rand exhorted readers to put the word "selfishness" to its true and proper use: to describe the ethic of rational self-interest. Fifty-one years later, it's still an uphill battle to get others to accept this use of "selfishness." Education pioneer and author Marsha Familaro Enright examines the semantic, conceptual and cultural problems with following Rand's admonition and suggests alternatives.
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Self-Acceptance, Self-Improvement, and Dealing with Life as it is

What is true about your life right now? Are you willing to acknowledge and accept what's true? Without first accepting that what's true is true right now, you can't know what you have to do to make things better. Once you know where you stand, it's easier to make an effective and realistic plan for improvement. Joel Wade discusses the importance of self-acceptance, some of the ways that people can actually change, and strategies for making long-term improvements in your life.
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Reach for the Stars 

In 1960s New York City, Ayn Rand taught Kerry O'Quinn the secrets of life at the Nathaniel Branden Institute. Since those golden days, Kerry has been teaching others how to enjoy the difficult struggles necessary to explore beyond our comfort zones and make distant dreams come true – learning, dreaming, planning and truly relishing the reaching. His ideas are inspiring, motivating and brutally practical.

The material for this talk draws on his forthcoming book, Reach for the Stars, built from his opening editorials in Starlog, magazine of the science fiction universe, which he created and published for more than 20 years  Watch now >


Wild Flowers -a play by John Enright 

Playwright John Enright discussed his work Wild Flowers at this year's Atlas Summit, and presented a video of the play. Wild Flowers is a comedy about looking for love... and a missing birth certificate. Maggie is surprised to learn that she is not an American and may be deported to Russia. Luckily, she's got a pair of suitors willing to help her get her green card. That's before her Mom arrives, eager to bring Maggie back to the motherland. But Maggie is determined to follow her own compass, and will settle for nothing less than the truth. 
Watch now >