Full Essay: Yaron Brook's Dead Soul

Grant Jones's picture
Submitted by Grant Jones on Wed, 2017-11-01 20:17

In Which Yaron Brook Reveals His Dead Soul

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burn'd,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd,
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no Minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour'd, and unsung. - Sir Walter Scott

Unfortunately, there are many people in the West and the United States that perfectly fit Scott's description of the Dead Souls. The most well-known and trenchant analysis of the Soulless is from Samuel P. Huntington's 2004 essay "Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite." As Huntington explains,

"Yes, the number of dead souls is small but growing among America's business, professional, intellectual and academic elites. Possessing in Scott's words, "titles, power and pelf", they also have decreasing ties with the American nation. Coming back to America from a foreign strand [such as Mongolia], they are not likely to be overwhelmed with deep feelings of commitment to their "native land." Their attitudes and behavior contrast with the overwhelming patriotism and nationalistic identification of the rest of the American public."

Yaron Brook is head of the Ayn Rand Institute. He provides an excellent example of the profound alienation that animates the Dead Souls of the transnational types. Recently, Brook posted a shrill, but mercifully short, video explaining his views on patriotism. It's only around a minute and twenty seconds long, so give it a listen.

Brook rants, "I'm a patriot only to the extent that this country lives up to its founding principle ... only to the extent that this country protects individual rights."

Brook views President Trump's civic nationalism as "collectivist garbage." Brook "loves" America because of what it "represents" in the abstract. He makes clear that he has no emotional connection to his fellow Americans. He is the quintessential non-American passport holder who needs to go back. As usual, Brook has nothing to say about the cultural underpinnings of individual rights and the American credo. He actually seems to believe that a nation's adherence to liberty is the result of abstract theory disconnected from fundamental cultural values. Note the anger with which his diatribe is delivered. The very idea of genuine patriotism enrages the man. It is also hard to miss his utter contempt for real patriotic Americans.

Brook engages in crude reductionism with his claim that the only legitimate source for patriotism is the creed. His view that patriotic feelings result from reciting a few sentences of political philosophy (however noble) is the view of an emotionally repressed rationalist who lives in an ahistorical world of floating abstractions.

In his indispensable Who Are We?, Samuel P. Huntington analyzes at great length the cultural values that made the creed possible and gave it life.

"Hence there is no validity to the claim that Americans have to choose between a white, WASPish ethnic identity, on the one hand, and an abstract, shallow civic identity dependent on commitment to certain political principles, on the other [the very false alternative that Brook espouses]. The core of their identity is the culture that the settlers created, which generations of immigrants have absorbed, and which gave birth to the American Creed. At the heart of that culture has been Protestantism .... The sources of the Creed include the Enlightenment ideas that became popular among some American elites in the mid-eighteenth century. These ideas, however, found receptive ground in the Anglo-Protestant culture that had already existed in America for over a century." (pp. 62, 68)

Ayn Rand was an atheist. But, as she said, she was not a crusading atheist and had a live and let live attitude towards Christian Americans. Sadly, this is not the case with Brook's mis-named Ayn Rand Institute (ARI). ARI's pathological hostility to Christianity is such that it seeks to erase the historical and cultural context that gave rise to the credo it claims to support.

It is a truism that soldiers fight, and die, for their buddies of their "primary group." Adherence to an abstract creed or cause may motivate young men to join the military in defense of their country. But, it is personal emotional connections to family back home and comrades in the trenches that sees them through to victory or death. The same is true for commitment and loyalty to a country. The fair weather patriots are legend when things are going well. When/if things go south in the USA, and it looks like the country will descend into chaos and tyranny, the Yaron Brook type passport holders will be on the first flight to Thailand.

Brook doesn't understand this central need for an emotional connection to kin, clan, nation etc. because he was apparently deposited on earth by space aliens. Identifying with such groups seems embedded in human nature. It has obvious survival utility. The utility of patriotism and group loyalty is clear when examining early human societies of pre-literate eras. An isolated individual separated from his family or clan was not long for this world. Survival was a cooperative effort and the only people you could really trust and depend upon were related by blood. In fact, the worst punishment American Indians could inflict on an individual was banishment from the tribe. However attributes of human nature are not "collectivism" (no matter how shrilly argued), they just are. Brook's religious devotion to the thoroughly debunked theory of the "blank slate" leads him into all sorts of conceptual chaos.

Robert A. Heinlein gave an address to the US Naval Academy titled "The Pragmatics of Patriotism" in the early 1970s. Then, as now, patriotism was under attack by the usual suspects. By "pragmatic," Heinlein means necessary and central to survival:

"I propose to prove that that baboon on watch is morally superior to that fat poltroon who made that wisecrack. Patriotism is the most practical of all human characteristics. But in the present decadent atmosphere patriots are often too shy to talk about it - as if it were something shameful or an irrational weakness. But patriotism is NOT sentimental nonsense. Nor is it something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man's evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual. A man who is NOT patriotic is an evolutionary dead end. This is not sentiment but the hardest of logic."

The result of normal childhood development and emotional balance is a sense of fellow feeling for one's family - and potentially larger social groupings. Another aspect of patriotism, that is foreign to those with Dead Souls, is a sense of common destiny. If America fails or goes under, so do I. Unlike Brook, America is my one and only country and home. I have nowhere else to go and no desire to go in any event. America means more to me than some amended credo that the Soulless mouth like a quasi religious catechism. The Dead Souls are unable to feel any sense of comradery with their fellow Americans. Instead, they have a thinly veiled contempt for the Deplorables in flyover country. Whether they say they're on the "left" or "right," all "citizens of the world" wish that real Americans would just go away.

Brook's opening comment on geography in the video is strange. As if loving the land and one's environment (the fruited plains, purple mountains majesty, sea to shining sea) is something beneath him. It is just another example of Brook's extreme rationalism. Good thing the settlers and pioneers who built America - and whose posterity the globalists are at jihad against - had a much more healthy view:

"Even from the earliest records of Captain John Smith, William Bradford, or John Winthrop, the enlarging of knowledge of America was simultaneous with the enlarging of the new American community. We sometimes forget how gradual was the 'discovery' of America: it was a by-product of the occupation of the continent. To act, to move on, to explore meant also to push back the frontiers of knowledge; this inevitably gave a practical and dynamic character to the very idea of knowledge. To learn and to act became one." (Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Colonial Experience, Vintage Books 1959, pp. 159-160)

Those with Dead Souls are incapable of feeling "love of one's native land" or understanding those who do. The global elite are completely detached from any such experience. Their gated communities and "jet set" life-business style insulates them from any real connections beyond the acquisition of yet more pelf whose main purpose/use is the acquisition of more status and prestige from their ilk.

In the late eighteenth century, Hector Crevecoeur asked the seminal question "what then, is the American, this new man?" In the Federalist #2, John Jay answered this question:

"With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence. This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties."

One can certainly dispute whether common ancestors are a requirement for being a member of the American people even in the eighteenth century. However, the rest of Jay's list is not contentious either then or now. The attempt to strip the credo from its context will render it inoperative and (ironically) open the door to the ethnic nationalism that Brook so abhors.

Original blog post with links here:

https://militaryreviews.blogsp...


Ayn Rand

Brant Gaede's picture

didn't despise the (anti-intellectuals?) Muhammad Ali or the Rev. Ike or President Ford. So WTF is with this guy?

--Brant
or the taxi driver she could converse with
there was a truck driver in Galt's Gultch

Thanks Everyone....

Grant Jones's picture

Thanks everyone for your kind words on my essay.

Onkar Ghate demonstrates that Leftists always double-down. Here's the link to his recent anti-Trump diatribe, in which he attempts to channel Ayn Rand.

https://ari.aynrand.org/blog/2...

As Lindsey posted elsewhere, here's an excellent response.

http://www.theratcap.com/2017/...

Trump vs Bwook

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Trump: "In dark times such as these, Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms and through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong..."

Bwook: "Collectivism! Not me!"

At her best

Brant Gaede's picture

The video is Ayn Rand at her very, very best for she got along famously with Tom Snyder and relaxed into the interview.

--Brant
let's imagine the other guy saying he loves this country "passionately"--oops!, my brain just short circuited! ("Does not compute! Does not compute!")

Excellent writing!

Olivia's picture

Clear, thoughtful and devastating to him whom it targets.

I love the Heinlein quote on patriotism:

Robert A. Heinlein gave an address to the US Naval Academy titled "The Pragmatics of Patriotism" in the early 1970s. Then, as now, patriotism was under attack by the usual suspects. By "pragmatic," Heinlein means necessary and central to survival:
"I propose to prove that that baboon on watch is morally superior to that fat poltroon who made that wisecrack. Patriotism is the most practical of all human characteristics. But in the present decadent atmosphere patriots are often too shy to talk about it - as if it were something shameful or an irrational weakness. But patriotism is NOT sentimental nonsense. Nor is it something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man's evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual. A man who is NOT patriotic is an evolutionary dead end. This is not sentiment but the hardest of logic."

The non-patriotic man is an evolutionary dead end. Soooooo true. So well said!

Hear, Hear!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

This article is as great in the quality of its writing as in the quality of its thoughts. I love this in particular:

The result of normal childhood development and emotional balance is a sense of fellow feeling for one's family - and potentially larger social groupings. Another aspect of patriotism, that is foreign to those with Dead Souls, is a sense of common destiny. If America fails or goes under, so do I. Unlike Brook, America is my one and only country and home. I have nowhere else to go and no desire to go in any event. America means more to me than some amended credo that the Soulless mouth like a quasi religious catechism. The Dead Souls are unable to feel any sense of comradery with their fellow Americans. Instead, they have a thinly veiled contempt for the Deplorables in flyover country. Whether they say they're on the "left" or "right," all "citizens of the world" wish that real Americans would just go away.

Compare Bwook's grotesque soullessness as he disparages patriotism with Ayn Rand's moving affirmative response to Tom Snyder's question, "You love this country, don't you?" 8' 20" in:

"Fellow-feeling" is anathema to Obleftivists, because a) they don't have it; b) they actively believe in behaving like jerks. Patriotism, I would have thought, is as much a form of loyalty to one's values as is loyalty to a friend. Not blind, gratuitous, uncritical loyalty but big-picture loyalty that allows for innocent error.

Bwook says to the extent America becomes collectivist, he'll fight it. Didn't hear much of that "fighting" while Obamarx and Hillary were weaving their collectivist evil. Bwook advocated voting for Hillary against Trump.

It is recognised in all corners of the Objectivist spectrum right now that the spread of our philosophy is, at best, stagnant, and at worst in serious retreat. That it is officially represented by such unappetising specimens as Bwook is a huge part of the problem. If we can't persuade the ARI to rename themselves ARISIS because of their Islam-enabling, can we at least get them to own up to being the Anti-Rand Institute?

Makes me think

Brant Gaede's picture

that Leonard Peikoff is now an old man taken advantage of intellectually and morally even financially by ARI-takerovers.

--Brant
way of the world

Great

Brant Gaede's picture

This is a great article. I couldn't have begun to write it; I'm too much of a reductionist.

Please note that in the video YB craps on America but doesn't extend this crapping to Israel using the same metrics.

--Brant

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