In just two weeks, we kick off our Fall 2019 Campus Liberty Tour with a debate on a very hot topic: Capitalism versus Socialism. Yaron Brook and Bhaskar Sunkara will debate at three locations, including the University of Maryland, University of Colorado-Denver and University of Texas-Austin on September 17, 18 and 19. Be sure to check out our event details and registration here.
For now, we wanted to help you get to know our panelists a little better. Enjoy a little Q&A below with Yaron and Bhaskar!
Yaron Brook, Chairman of the Board Ayn Rand Institute
- What is your background and why do you purse that work that you do? I am the host of the Yaron Brook Show, a best-selling author and speaker. My podcast, the Yaron Brook Show, can be heard on BlogTalk Radio, Spreaker and YouTube. I was born and raised in Israel and served as a first sergeant in Israeli military intelligence and earned a BSc in civil engineering from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. In 1987, I moved to the United States where I received an MBA and PhD in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. I became an American citizen in 2003. For seven years, I was an award-winning finance professor at Santa Clara University, and in 1998, I cofounded BH Equity Research, a private equity and hedge fund manager, of which he is founder and director.
- Why do you do what you do? I do what I do because Ayn Rand’s philosophy changed my life for the better and I think her ideas can make the world a much better place. Indeed,I think her ideas are necessary to save Civilization from decline.
- Why do you think it’s important to have civil dialogue about important issues like socialism and capitalism? It’s the biggest debate in politics today, and for the last 100 years, and it will determine the fate of this country and the rest of the world. In a sense, there is no more important a debate than this. The only way to conduct any debate, but especially one of this importance, is too appeal to peoples reason. The only way to do that is through a calm civil dialog.
- What is the simplest way you can explain why you support capitalism? Capitalism is the only moral social/political/economic system. It is the only system that promotes life — the individuals life and his rational pursuit of his own happiness.
- What might you encourage students or viewers to read to learn more about capitalism? Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is a great book for the battle between capitalism and excess government regulation. I also recommend Ayn rand’s nonfiction: The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal and The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.
- Who is a role model, thinker or leader for you on this issue? Ayn Rand.
Bhaskar Sunkara, Founding Editor & Publisher of Jacobin Magazine
- What is your background and why do you purse that work that you do? I’m the youngest of five and the only one of my siblings born in the United States. From a young age, I saw how much of life were the results of accidents of birth and how much I benefited from being nurtured by important public institutions like libraries and schools.
- Why do you think it’s important to have civil dialogue about important issues like socialism and capitalism? Economic issues — debates over who gets the spoils of our collective labor and under what conditions, who has to work for whom and under what bargain — these are the most important issues in our lives. It’s important to discuss them in public forums. For years, people wouldn’t even talk about capitalism, but rather just say the system was “the economy” or “the market economy.” It’s progress that both capitalism and socialism are becoming legible to people.
- What is the simplest way you can explain why you support socialism? At the very least, we deserve to all live in a society that provides us with the core necessities — nutrition, housing, education, health care, child care — that allow us to reach our full potential, flourish in our individuality, and create the conditions in which others can do the same.
- What might you encourage students or viewers to read to learn more about socialism? I’d recommend reading the work of Michael Harrington and Ralph Miliband, as well as checking out both my book The Socialist Manifesto and Jacobin magazine.
- Who is a role model, thinker or leader for you on this issue? Michael Harrington, the founder of the Democratic Socialists of America, was a voice of humanity and democracy throughout his lifetime. He was never afraid to engage with people who disagreed with, either.
Do you have questions for our panelists? Leave us a comment on social media or send us a message and we’ll ensure our moderators know what you’re looking to hear during these debates!