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  • okay, Half a 1,000,000,000 times.

  • People interested in what you have to say?

  • It seems that way somewhat of a shock.

  • Well, maybe it's because you aren't a politician.

  • You are a psychologist and your understanding more about what's going on in the world than many of our lawmakers.

  • Actually, d'oh!

  • And I know we've met so many ways that we could go with this interview tonight on we got questions.

  • Thank you to all of you in the audience who send in your questions.

  • I've got some of them right here.

  • We're going to get into those.

  • But let me start with Let's just drop the socialism piece.

  • Do you think Americans truly understand the history of socialism and actually, what it is as you go on around under you've had when you speak Thio Not just college campuses, that you've been events around the world Think 250,000 people you've spoken in front of people are unbelievably ignorant about history.

  • And I mean, I would include myself in that, you know?

  • I mean, I knew what I knew about history.

  • Save proceeding.

  • The 20th century is very sketchy.

  • It's embarrassingly sketchy, you know, um and what young people know about 20th century history is non existent, especially about the history of the radical left.

  • When how would they know?

  • They're never taught anything about it, So why would they be concerned about?

  • And you know what?

  • For many of the people in the audience, you know, you're old enough so that the fall of the Berlin Wall was, well, that was part of your life.

  • You know, that was really the end of the second World War.

  • Let's say in a technical sense, and it was very meaningful, but that's a long time ago.

  • There's been a lot of people born since then, and it's ancient history, and we don't have that many good bad examples left.

  • You know, there's North Korea.

  • There's Venezuela, but we're not locked tooth and nail in a war with, you know, in a proxy war in a Cold war with the Soviet Union.

  • And it's easy to understand why people are emotionally drawn to the ideals of socialism, Let's say, or the left, because it draws on.

  • It draws its fundamental motivational source from a kind of primary compassion, and that is always there in human beings, and so that proclivity for for sensitivity to that political message will never go away.

  • And so it's important to understand that you have to give the devil his due.

  • Unfortunately, you've also said that people aren't as resentful at the success of others as we might think.

  • And I think as you watch a lot of people being interviewed today and you watch some of the students being interviewed, you saw some of the ones up here.

  • You hear people talking a lot about inequality, but you say they really aren't is resentful, as we might think, as long as they don't think the game is fixed.

  • Yes, well, that's certainly the case.

  • Well, first of all, I mean, if you look at the psychological literature to the degree that it's accurate, which is difficult to ascertain, often people report farm or prejudice against their group that against themselves.

  • So so that's quite an interesting phenomenon as far as I'm concerned.

  • So there's a tendency for people to exaggerate the degree to which the group they belong to.

  • It has is currently suffering from from generalized oppression.

  • They've bean relatively free of it themselves.

  • Um, I also think that yet fairness isn't absolutely essential and perceived.

  • Fairness is an absolutely essential component of peace because people can tolerate inequality, so to speak or even revel in it.

  • Let's say if they believe that the unequal outcome is deserved.

  • I mean, look at how people respond to sports heroes.

  • You know everyone.

  • No one goes to a sports event and booze the star, even though he or she is paid much better and attracts the lion's share of the attention.

  • Hopefully not into narcissistic a manner people can celebrate success, but they do have to believe that the game is fair and and the game needs to be fair because otherwise the hierarchy becomes tyrannical.

  • The problem with the radical left is that it assumes that all hierarchies air too radical, and it makes no distinction between them.

  • And that's an absolute catastrophe because, you know, there's plenty of sins, let's say on the conscience of the of the West as a civilization.

  • But you can't throw the baby out with the bath water, and there are far worse places like all the other places, for example, that there have ever bean Well, it's the case, and people also don't understand that, and they also don't understand.

  • This is something that's of particular importance.

  • They also don't understand and that that may even characterize you in this audience.

  • It's very the knowledge of how rapidly were making economic improvements around the world in developing world, for example, how fast that's happening.

  • That is not well distributed knowledge.

  • You know that between the year 2000 and the year 2012 the rate of absolute poverty in the world fell by 50%.

  • Now it's a U.

  • N figure dollar 90 day.

  • That was their cut off for absolute poverty.

  • And so the cynics have said, Well, you know, that's pretty low barriers, not such an achievement to have attained that I can tell you it's an achievement to obtain that if you were living on less than a dollar 90 day to begin with.

  • But if you look at, if you double the amount to 3 80 or you double it again to 7 60 you find the same pattern.

  • I mean, the poor in the world are getting rich at a rate that is absolutely unparalleled in all of human history, and I think I think a large part of that large part of that is happening in Africa, where, by the way, here's another lovely piece of news.

  • The child mortality rate in Africa is now the same as it was in Europe in 1952 which is, I mean, that's an absolute miracle.

  • Or it's insane that that's not front page news, right?

  • It's that's that's within a lifetime, and the fastest growing economies in the world are also there.

  • And so But it is, you're saying.

  • But why isn't front page news?

  • And when you considering social media and how fast news and photos and all that can travel and that young people are aficionados of all this technology, why don't they know these things?

  • Or why are they computing what they see as being progress?

  • Well, I think part of it is that things are changing so fast that none of us can keep up like it's hard to keep the story updated.

  • I had no idea, for example, that most of the world's economic news and even a substantial proportion of its ecological news, by the way, was positive until I started to work on a U.

  • N.

  • Committee about five years ago on sustainable economic development.

  • And I read very widely, economically and and also ecologically and realize that things were way better than I had any, any sense of that, that that these improvements had come at a tremendous rate and and But you see parts so so partly it is just that it's so new that we don't know and we don't have a story about it and and and and And who is who would be driving the communication of such things, especially given to other things?

  • One is that human beings are tilted towards negative emotion in terms of its potency.

  • And so, for example, people would rather they've much.

  • They're much less happy to lose $5 than they are happy to gain.

  • $5 were loss averse, are were more sensitive to negative emotion than we are the positive emotion and there's a reason for that.

  • And the reason is, while you can only be so happy, but you could be dead and right and I mean dead is that's not good and there could be a lot of misery on the way to that end and so we're we're tilted to protect ourselves, and that makes us more interested in some sense and more easily captivated by the negative than by the positive.

  • And so that's that's a hard bias to fight.

  • And then when you also take into account.

  • And I think this is something that syrup worth seriously considering, because the other thing we don't understand is the technological revolution that's occurring in every form of media.

  • No one understands it.

  • And but one of the consequences is is that the mainstream media, so to speak, is increasingly desperate for attention.

  • Right there exist in a shrinking market with shrinking margins.

  • All of the leading newspapers and magazines are feeling the pinch.

  • Television is dead you because YouTube has everything that television has, and then incredible array of additional features and radio is being replaced by podcasts.

  • And so it's very unstable time for the mainstream media.

  • And what would you expect them to do, except to do whatever they can to attract attention in whatever manner they can manage?

  • One example of this one very good example of this is you may or may not know that the rates of violent crime in the United States and actually in most places have plummeted in the last 50 years.

  • It's It's really quite remarkable.

  • The United States is now safer and in terms of violent crime than it has been since the early sixties, and that was probably the safest time there ever waas.

  • But the degree to which violent crime has been reported has increased.

  • It's funny.

  • The curves are almost completely opposite one another.

  • This is the decline in violent crime.

  • This is the increase in the reporting of violent crime, and the reason for that is well, people read stories about violent crime.

  • And then, of course, they're much more likely to believe that it's on the increase.

  • And the people who are most likely to believe that it's on the increase, by the way, are also those who are least likely to be affected by it because you know, to be a victim of a violent crime, what helps to drink too much.

  • But it also helps a lot to be young and male, and that those aren't the people who are particularly afraid of violent crime, even though they're the ones most likely to be implicated in it.

  • So there's technological reasons for our concentration on the negative and their complex.

  • It's not easy to figure out how to combat the spiral of outrage and attention seeking that, I think is accompanying the death of our previous means of communication.

  • No.

  • One, no one knows how to handle that, and that's a big problem.

  • Let's go on me.

  • I know so many in this audience and not just here in New York, but we hear from our members all over the country.

  • They're so concerned about what their Children, what their grandchildren are both being taught, but also what they're coming back home from college and talking about and saying where where they learning them and they know where they're learning about.

  • How does this get seeping into them?

  • You obviously have spoken out not just a dinner suit.

  • Toronto but colleges all over the world.

  • What is it you see today on the campus or among young people today?

  • That that is, that's new or isn't new?

  • I've heard you say that we're no more polarized today than we were.

  • Maybe even under Richard Nixon, and the campuses were more on on fire than that.

  • Even they are today.

  • So where the similarities and differences that you're saying, Well, I don't I don't see any real evidence that your society is more polarized, generally speaking, than it has been many times in the past that I think the Knicks in there is a good example.

  • I mean, if you if you think about it merely statistically, I mean, you've been split 50 50 Republican Democrat for what?

  • Five elections now.

  • And it's almost perfect, a 50 50 split that really hasn't changed.

  • Trump, of course, is somewhat of a wild card, and so that complicates things.

  • But I don't think it changes the underlying dynamic.

  • What I What I do think is is has arisen again because it's made its Met self manifest many times in the last 100 100 years is the rise of this group identity associate id Quasi Marxist viewpoint.

  • With this additional toxic mixture and paradoxical mixture of postmodernism, the postmodernists are famous for being skeptical of meta narratives that might be a defining that was like a tart, I believe who coined that although I might be wrong.

  • It was one of the French postmodernists and that that means that they're skeptical about the idea that uniting large uniting narratives are valid and it's A.

  • It's a huge problem, that claim, because the first question is, well, how big does the narrative have to be before?

  • It's a meta narrative, right?

  • I mean, is the narrative that holds your family together.

  • Falsehood is the narrative that holds your community together a falsehood like How big does it have to be before it becomes a falsehood?

  • And so it's very vague claim, and it's a very It's a very dangerous claim, in my estimation, because I believe that.

  • And I believe the psychological research is clear on this.

  • What we have, we, our cognitive abilities, are nested inside.

  • Stories were fundamentally narrative creatures.

  • That's how our brains are organized and so to deny the validity of large scale narratives is to deny the validity of the manner in which we organize our psyches.

  • And that's unbelievably destabilizing for people.

  • I mean, first of all, look, the simplest story, in some sense is that I'm at point A and I'm going to Point B.

  • And that's not a simple A story as it might sound, because it implies that you are somewhere and that you know it.

  • You have a representation of it geographically, let's say socially.

  • Psychologically, you have some sense of who you are, but more importantly, have some sense of who you are transforming yourself into, and so that gives you a direction.

  • And now that direction, the direction gives you meaning.

  • And then I did, and I don't mean that in a clich shade sense.

  • What I mean is that the way that our brains are constituted is that almost all the positive emotion that people feel and install so true of animals, by the way, is it emerges as a consequence of observing that you're making your way to a valued endpoint.

  • So you know, you think, well, what makes you happy is the attainment of something, and there is a form of reward that is associated with that's called consume a Torrey reward.

  • It's the satisfaction that you feel, say, after you have, ah, delightful Thanksgiving meal.

  • But that isn't the hope, and the meaning that people thrive on the hope in the meaning that people thrive on is the observation that they're moving towards something worthwhile.

  • And that might be individually, although it really can't be because we live in collectives, but it should be collective, and that isn't optional.

  • If you don't have a goal, a transcendent goal, say something that's beyond you, then you don't have any positive emotion.

  • And that's not good because you have plenty of negative emotions.

  • And then that's That's the problem with fundamental claims of meaninglessness to in life that it's this.

  • It's the philosophical error that's made by nihilists.

  • Let's say who say what?

  • Life is meaningless.

  • It's like, Well, if you're a nihilist, Jen, you genuinely you've lost all hope.

  • Your life isn't meaningless.

  • It's just unbearably miserable, and that's and that's a form of meeting.

  • You know that suffering is a form of meaning, and you can try to argue yourself out of that with your nihilistic rationalizations.

  • But that is not going to work.

  • You need a transcendent goal in order to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the destruction of the narratives that guide us individually, psychologically and that also unite us socially familial and socially.

  • It's an absolute catastrophe and well, the question then is, Why is it being undertaken?

  • And that's a complex question.

  • That and I don't know if we can even discuss that, that that has something to do with this unholy marriage of the postmodern nihilism with with this Marxist utopian notion, which makes no sense at all because the postmodernists air stepped skeptical of meta narratives.

  • Yet Marxism is a grand meta narrative, but coherency it doesn't have to make sense.

  • Well, that's well that, in fact, the idea that it makes that things have to make sense is part of the oppressive patriarchy.

  • And so we can just dispense while I'm serious people, people, people, people teach that in a dead, serious manner that the requirement for logical consistency is an arbitrary.

  • It's an arbitrary in position on cognitive structure.

  • It's not something necessary for for rational cognition, even if there is such a thing.

  • I mean, you don't know how deep this war goes.

  • In some sense, I can give you an example.

  • You know, there's a freeze debate about free speech on campus, but what, you don't understand it?

  • It isn't the debate about who can speak.

  • It's a debate about whether there is such a thing as free speech, and the answer from the Radicals is that there isn't because further to be free speech, you see there have to be sovereign individuals, right and those sovereign individuals have to be defined by that sovereign individuality, and they have to have their own locus of truth.

  • In some sense, that's a consequence of that sovereignty.

  • And then they have to be able to do engage in rational, discursive negotiation with people who aren't like them, which means they have to stretch their hands, Let's say, across racial or ethnic divides, they have to be able to communicate, and they have to be able to formulate a negotiated and practical agreement.

  • And none of that is part and parcel of the post mortar doctrine.

  • All of that.

  • All of that's up for grabs.

  • There's no sovereign individuals.

  • Your group identity is paramount.

  • You have no unique voice.

  • You're a mouthpiece of your identity group.

  • You can't speak across group lines because you don't understand the lived experience of the other.

  • And so it's not who gets to speak.

  • It's whether the entire notion it's a very classic Western notion in a very deep one of free and intelligible speech is even valid.

  • I mean these these this this intellectual war that's going on in the universities is way deeper than a political war.

  • It's It's it's and way more way more serious than a political board manifests itself politically.

  • But But, no, it's politics is way up the scale from where this is actually taking place.

  • So when you when you're talking with students, both one on one or were you getting their questions?

  • And I'm gonna get to some of your questions here very shortly?

  • These are not all conservative students that are coming up to you, and they're downloading your videos and listening to your podcasts.

  • And it's not even though it is a lot of young men.

  • It's on all What do you think drives people to the message and to the things that you talk about?

  • Oh, I I think it's that unbelievable.

  • And, well, that's why it's That's why I mean, you know, in most of my lectures.

  • So I've done about 100 and 50 public lectures.

  • Or so in the last year all over the world and two large audiences.

  • The audiences in Australia were starting to approach while we had audiences 5500 people in Australia.

  • So which is quite remarkable, you know, that the 5500 people would come to listen to like a serious discussion about philosophical, theological and and psychological issues and to participate in that, and I don't pull any punches.

  • I'm not speaking down.

  • I would never speak down to an audience.

  • I I think that's a dreadful error of arrogance.

  • But the reason that I think people believe what I say is that I'm very pessimistic.

  • Well, look, because most times when you when you listen to someone who's who's ah, motivational speaker, let's say you know, it fills you with a temporary optimism.

  • But you go home and and the wiser part of you knows that mostly it's it's the painting over of rotten wood with with a fresh coat of paint.

  • And I tell my audience is very clearly that their life is going to be difficult and sometimes difficult beyond both imagining and tolerance, and that that is definitely in your future.

  • If it isn't in your present, and for many people, it's in their present, and that that and that and that that can be unbearable, that enough to turn you against life itself, to corrupt, to corrupt you, to drive you to nihilism, to drive you to suicide and worse, to drive you to thoughts of love, vengefulness of infinite scope, to not only be turned against yourself and your fellow men, but to be turned against being itself because of its intrinsically brutal in some sense nature.

  • And and then it's worse than that, actually, because it's not only that we suffer and and that that will necessarily Okker, but that we all make our suffering worse because of our ignorance and r malevolence.

  • And everyone knows that to be true.

  • And so the discussion start, Let's say on ah on ah, on an unshakable foundation.

  • But then I can tell people look, despite that, despite that, were remarkable creatures.

  • You know, we're capable of taking up the burden of that suffering and facing the reality of that malevolence voluntarily.