Journalist Scott Holleran gives his take on OCON 2019:
Visiting and making new friends is a top value. I gained the highest value at OCON Cleveland in the lessons on bacteriophages (with a nod to Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis), PrEP, the scourge of mosquitos, CAR-T, Rachel Carson and CRISPR by the brilliant if breathless Dr. Amesh Adalja — behaviorism and Ivan Pavlov — Christianity’s dubious origins — interesting advice with cogent thoughts on Bob Dylan and criticism of being “inquisitorial” within the context of what the speaker calls personal, as against optional, values — and a lecture on Aristotle with insight into Rand’s thoughts on his philosophy of art.
Though I was unable to attend several major lectures and courses, I enjoyed Shoshana Milgram’s newest work on the splendor of Victor Hugo and I would’ve liked to have seen Dr. Milgram, an English literature professor and Rand’s biographer, on the arts panels. My personal favorite presentation was Stephen Siek’s marvelous, two-part lecture about and biographical introduction to Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose struggle, work and life are as larger than life, passionate and inspiring as his music. This type of mini-course makes OCON uniquely enriching.
You can read the full post on his website.
Ayn Rand Student Conference Europe (AynRandCon) is officially underway in Prague, the Czech Republic! This is ARI’s first ever conference in Europe and the theme is “Individualism in an Age of Tribalism.”
Even if you are not at AynRandCon, you have the opportunity to join attendees and speakers and watch all or some of the program live on the Ayn Rand Institute’s YouTube channel, beginning this Saturday, February 16 at 8:40 AM CET. (Note that Prague is on Central European Standard Time or six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.)
Some particular new talks and panels of note:
- An Individualist Doing Business in Collectivist Europe – Mr. Christensen, co-founder of Denmark’s Saxo Bank and founder of the private equity firm Seier Capital, has had a long, successful career as an innovator in banking and finance. In this talk, he discusses some of the challenges he’s faced as a staunch individualist (indeed, an Objectivist!) doing business in collectivist Europe.
Panel + Q&A: Immigration and Islam
The issue of Muslim immigration is one of the major sources of political and cultural tension in Europe today. This panel will explore the controversies over immigration and Islam and the future of Europe.
- Tribalism in Europe’s Political Culture – Tribalism has long been a feature of Europe’s political culture and is becoming increasingly central to current developments. This talk will explore the growing tribalism in Europe’s political culture.
Panel + Q&A: Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Ethnicity
Europe today is seeing an ominous resurgence of nationalist fervor as people identify more and more with regional and national groups defined by ethnicity. Has multiculturalism—which is often presented as an appreciation of, and respect for, cultural differences—actually reinforced this growing tribal conflict?of Europe.
- Tribalism in America’s Political Culture – America’s political climate—especially in the wake of the 2016 election and the Trump presidency—is increasingly divided by tribal loyalties rather than by intellectual differences. This talk will explore the growing tribalism in America’s political culture.
Panel + Q&A: Capitalism, Individualism and the Welfare State – This panel will discuss the ways in which tribalism leads to the “mixed economy” welfare state—and how that political-economic system reinforces the anti-individual mindset. The result is a vicious circle of increasingly collectivist policies and an increasingly collectivist electorate that both supports and is victimized by the system.
Panel + Q&A: Tribalism and Freedom of Speech
Support for the right to freedom of speech is waning as people become less interested in rational discussion of ideas and principles and more focused on exhibiting uncritical tribal loyalty. What are some of the growing threats to freedom of speech today and why is it so critical to preserve this crucial right?
- Individualism in an Age of Tribalism – Increasingly, our culture pushes us to view ourselves as members of one group or another. What matters, we’re told, is not the choices we make or the actions we take as individuals, but our ethnicity, our gender, our nation. In this talk, we’ll explore the roots of tribalism as well as Ayn Rand’s challenge to the doctrine of collectivism and her introduction of a radical new conception of individualism.
Link: Ayn Rand Institute’s YouTube channel