In this lecture by philosopher Leonard Peikoff, delivered shortly after publication of his book, The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America, Peikoff argues that ideas have the power to shape human history. After explaining how bad philosophy—specifically, unreason and self-sacrifice—gave rise to the evils of Nazi Germany, Peikoff points out disturbing parallels in American culture and offers Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism as a rational alternative.
Almost everyone acknowledges that Nazism was one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century, yet few understand its deep causes. How did a supposedly civilized country— the “land of poets and philosophers”—degenerate into a murderous, totalitarian dictatorship? What made the monstrous Nazi campaign possible?
After an extensive analysis of the rise of Nazi Germany, Peikoff discusses recent intellectual and cultural trends in America, showing their connection to dominant ideas in American universities. He then makes a chilling observation: all of the fundamental ideas that drove Germany to dictatorship have close parallels in today’s universities. What, he asks, does this portend for America’s future direction?
Although bad philosophy can drive a country towards dictatorship, Peikoff states, good philosophy can reverse such a trend—the pro-reason, pro-self-interest, pro-individualist philosophy of Objectivism. Since this lecture is addressed to an audience of business students, Peikoff ends with three pieces of advice for businessmen interested in changing the course of the culture for the better.
Leonard Peikoff is an American philosopher who had a close 30-year friendship and professional association with Ayn Rand. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, is the author of three books, and has lectured on Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism for decades. He is considered the world’s foremost authority on the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
(MP3 download; 70 min., with Q & A, 50.60 MB)
The description of this product has not necessarily been reviewed or approved by Leonard Peikoff.