Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 128th episode of the Atlas Society. Asks, My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. You can call me Jag. I'm the CEO of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization introducing young people to the ideas of I Rand in fun, creative ways, like our graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are joined by Constantine Kissen. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I wanna remind those who are joining us, whether on Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. You can use the comment section to type in your questions. So go ahead and get started. We'll get to as many of them as we can. Constantine Kissen is a Russian British comedian, uh, and political commentator who hosts Trigger Geometry, a YouTube channel and podcast devoted to free speech. He is the best selling author of an immigrant's love letter to the West. Uh, he made international headlines for refusing to sign a behavioral agreement form banning certain kinds of in order to speak on a university campus. And we are delighted to have him join us today. Constantine, welcome.
Speaker 1 00:01:24 Thanks for having me, Chaga. I appreciate it.
Speaker 0 00:01:28 So we always like to start with a bit about our guests origin stories and yours, which you share in your book was particularly fascinating. Um, you were born in Soviet Russia, and as I understand members of your family tree were actually jailed as political dissidents. So tell us a bit about your family history and how your experience under communism, uh, may have shaped your political perspective today.
Speaker 1 00:02:00 Well, uh, the short story of it is, as you say, I was born in the early eighties in the Soviet Union, and, uh, yes, uh, members of my family, uh, experienced various, uh, sort of punishments of ranging from being sent to the Gulag, um, to, uh, being fired from work, et cetera. And, and some of it was for political, uh, dissidents, people who had the wrong view, the wrong opinion, which is why free speech is so important to me. But a lot of it was, um, just, you know, this radical reordering of society, uh, that, uh, you, you are interesting. Before we started, you asked me if I'd read I rand, and one of the things I found very interesting, uh, as I explored her work in my sort of late teenage years and early twenties, is her name obviously wasn't, it's a pseudonym, mine rant.
Speaker 1 00:02:47 Her name was Alice Rosenbaum, and she escaped, uh, Russia because of, um, of the, the communists that, that were taking over. So the very things that she was fleeing and her family were fleeing were the, the very things that my family, uh, experienced. So, um, yeah, my, my, I had, um, all sorts of different experiences in my family, and of course, uh, people often say to me, Well, look, you were born in the eighties, You know, what are you talking about? How could this affect you? Well, actually, you know, my, my grandfather, I, I talk about this in the book, as you know, he, uh, was fired from work. His wife was fired from work, and his children, my dad and my aunt, uh, were forced out of the university because he criticized the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the mid eighties. Uh, so this repressive machine was, was still around even when I was a little, uh, a little boy.
Speaker 1 00:03:38 Uh, but more importantly, you know, if you live in a family, uh, particularly a Russian one where we like to go, go over the dark and terrible things that have happened to us or that we've experienced over and over in great detail, uh, and, you know, you spend a lot of time living with, with grandparents as well, um, in a way that most people in the west don't tend to do anymore. Um, then you kind of get it, you know, in few, your whole life is infused with all of these stories and they shape, uh, your experiences and how you see the world. Um, and, uh, there's all sorts of other things that we could talk about in terms of that, that I don't even talk about in the book. But, you know, for example, my grandmother, uh, who, who lives in Ukraine, she, she was, uh, lived in Soviet Ukraine all her life.
Speaker 1 00:04:21 She, she experienced not only the people coming and sending, uh, sending her family off to the golas, confiscating her property, exiling them to the far east of Russia because they had a horse. That was their great crime. They, they were cool acts and wealthy, therefore, but, but also the fascinating thing to me is, um, in many ways that was not even the worst thing that they, that she went through because she then lived through the German occupation of Russia and Ukraine. Uh, and of course now she's still alive, my grandmother, 94 years old, living through yet another occupation of Ukraine. So it's, it's a society that has seen a lot of turmoil, and I think it shapes a lot of the way that people think. I was born there, part of part, partly culturally from there, but also, uh, happened to, to come to the West when I was a teenager.
Speaker 1 00:05:13 And so I kind of have a foot in both camps. I can see things in both ways. I often say that actually speaking a different language gives you a different personality. Like the person I am when I'm speaking Russian is probably quite different to the one I'm speaking English. And that sort of access allows me to perhaps see where, hopefully where the west is, perhaps unaware of how it, how things are everywhere else. I talk, as you know about this quite a lot in the book, in the West, we've, we've got this very, uh, self-focused view, and we're, because we're fortunate to be wealthy and safe and stable and, and whatever, we don't have to think about how people live elsewhere. And we therefore don't compare ourselves, and therefore it's, we're very tempting then to think, Oh, actually what we have isn't great. And, and, and all of that. And other hand, I can also see into the Russian way of thinking and the Russian culture and how that impacts the way people in Russia think and some of the threats we in the, in the west face as a, a result. Uh, so yeah, that's, that's my background. I was trying to make it sure, but end up being long as always.
Speaker 0 00:06:15 No, I thought it was, it was really fascinating, uh, not just, you know, your experience of being sent here for boarding school and, and not speaking, uh, the, the language. And um, and then also there's the aspect where, you know, just as with the, the Holocaust, um, these experiences or just as with, uh, the cultural revolution in China, you know, and the resulting scar literature as they call it, that these experiences do get, um, kind of passed down through the family and in a way because it, uh, not only changes those that have directly experienced it, but um, but it also shapes what they pass on to the next generation. And speaking of passing onto the next generation, you were a teacher at some point in your career, Uh,
Speaker 1 00:07:09 Was I,
Speaker 0 00:07:10 I I thought you, you taught in, in school or no, Maybe was was that,
Speaker 1 00:07:14 You're probably confusing me, but France.
Speaker 0 00:07:16 Okay.
Speaker 1 00:07:17 Okay. He, bri I can't believe you've confused this. Ja, this isn't, I'm not attacking you, it's just he brings it up every bloody episode. So I would've thought you would've got that, but don't worry about it. No, I wasn't the teacher. I have, I, I've run a few training courses, but I, I was never a teacher.
Speaker 0 00:07:32 Yeah. So, um, how did you get into standup comedy?
Speaker 1 00:07:37 Uh, well, I, I had a, it, it's a long and b boring story, but I had a friend who, who was an agent for comedians, and he invited me, uh, to a comedy festival that he founded in a very small city in, in island in Kike called Cat Laughs. Um, and, uh, I just looked at, uh, the people, uh, performing there. And I, I, I'd been a, I'd run my own translation business for 10 years before that. So I was getting to the point where I'd kind of like, I'd, um, as you can see from the gaming chair behind me, I used to, I, I, I used to enjoy computer games, and I kind of think of life in that way. It's like, I'd got I'd, I'd completed all the levels in my previous career, and I think I was ready to, to do something else.
Speaker 1 00:08:21 And I saw, uh, all these guys, and it was mostly guys on stage, you know, just talking and making people laugh. And I like a complete idiot thought, Oh, that, that looks like fun. Why don't I do this? Uh, not realizing that actually it sounds like they're just talking and being funny. It, it's the, you know, the ability to be that funny is the process of years and years and years of crafting what is material, um, on stage. Uh, but I, I'm the sort of person that likes to challenge myself. I like to have a go at different things. Um, and so I started and, um, you know, you start out doing the open mics and it's absolutely brutal. It's the hardest, uh, gigs that you do. And eventually, you know, my, I was fortunate that my career went very well. I made it into the different clubs.
Speaker 1 00:09:08 I, I row on tv. I opened for some of my heroes on tour. I did my own show in 2019, uh, which was, uh, about that contract that you mentioned earlier. So I was able to weave together the many interests that I have, you know, Um, so yeah, he was, but he was always something, you know, I, I think standup was never quite the right thing for me because I was always much more interested in satire than standup. And standup is a, is a different genre. A standup is much more simply about entertainment. I was much more, uh, again, my Russian influence coming into it because, uh, in the Soviet Union, jokes were always, you know, of course people just joke about on day to day life, but humor was particularly, uh, powerful in terms of, uh, highlighting some of the things that were happening in society because they were almost the only way that you could mm-hmm.
Speaker 1 00:10:00 <affirmative> being funny. Uh, jokes were, were a way of exposing the hypocrisies and the flaws in the system that people were living in. And so Russia actually has a, and the form Soviet countries, there's a very rich culture of political satire as opposed to just humor for the sake of, of, of pure entertainment. And I was much more interested in the satirical side of things, which is, uh, why I think over time I began to do other things and write and, and, and, uh, do trigonometry and, and, and do other things because, uh, while I enjoyed standup, and there's, you know, Francis calls it the joke, Coke, when you're on stage, it's, it's a very strong, uh, physical experience. And, and I always, you know, I always enjoyed public speaking and standup and all of those things. They're fun. Um, when the, when the pandemic happened and I realized that I was spending, you know, half my day driving around to various obscure cities in the UK to do a 20 minute set in a comedy club, and my wife hasn't seen me for a couple of years, which is sort of how she was feeling, um, I decided to, to take a break and we'll see how long that break from standup, uh, lasts.
Speaker 0 00:11:09 Well, so you mentioned in the introduction this experience that you had, uh, when you kind of garnered international and attention for refusing to sign this university behavioral agreement form. So, uh, what was it and what was your thinking and what was the reaction?
Speaker 1 00:11:31 I'll tell you the story very quickly because anyone who knows me has heard it a thousand times. But basically, I was asked to perform at a, at a college hit in London, and they said they had, uh, they needed me to sign a behavioral agreement contract, which had a zero tolerance policy on get this racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-religion, anti atheism. And it also said that all jokes must be respectful and kind. Um, and I turned it down. I tweeted about it to what was like a thousand people at the time. I didn't have a particularly big following, uh, back then. Um, we'd just started trigonometry a few months before. Um, and it went super viral around the world. It was the second most read story on the BBC News website on the day that the then prime Minister was nearly removed from office by her own party. So that's the equivalent of like, I dunno, right now Joe Biden gets nearly impeached by the Democrats and the biggest story on Fox News and CNN is comedian. No one's ever heard of turns down unpaid charity gig from some college, no one cares about. It was kind of crazy. Um, and, um, why
Speaker 0 00:12:47 Do you think it struck such a chord?
Speaker 1 00:12:49 Well, this is what I realized in that moment is prior to that, I think I sort of, I, I was tempted to think that the reason I care so much about people being free to make jokes and express themselves and say controversial things and even things that I strongly disagree with, was because of my background and you know, how I'm built and, and blah, blah, blah. But when I turned down that contract and it got that kind of reaction, I realized that actually a lot of people in our society feel, and the statistics bear this out, and I talk, I cite many of them in the book. Most people are actually, most people, even, uh, people who we think of as like, let's say the, you know, conventionally people would say the left has control over the media or more control over the media than the right, let's say this is document some people would make.
Speaker 1 00:13:35 Even on the left, people feel terrified of expressing themselves in public, uh, and on the right and in the center it's, it's even more pronounced. So I think the reason that it had, the resonance that it had is that ordinary people feel in their own lives on a day to day basis, almost like there are, there are situations in which they've signed that contract, they've signed a contract not to offend people, they've signed a contract, which says that if you say the wrong thing or you don't quite use the 2022 word, you use the 2020 word and you didn't get the update notification about that word no longer being allowed. Uh, if you didn't do that, then you're gonna be in trouble and you, you risk, uh, losing friends or losing your job or being hampered in your career or being kicked out of college or, or school or whatever it might be.
Speaker 1 00:14:23 So I think the reason I had the resonance that it had is quite a lot of people don't like being told, you can't say this, you can't do that. And, um, I think they're also tired of these endlessly creeping moral standards where, you know, a person who's been in a coma for like five years would wake up now and be a massive, bigger automatically just cuz they hadn't been around for five years of new cultural norms. You know what I mean? Um, so I think that that's, that's where a lot of the sentiment, uh, that not just in reaction to that contract, but more broadly, uh, in our society, a lot of it is coming from that place. I think.
Speaker 0 00:15:00 So, uh, as I had mentioned, your book was, uh, really beautifully written and also beautifully narrated. Um, uh, Constantine does the narration himself, which I know is actually not very easy. Um,
Speaker 1 00:15:15 I lost my voice. Like I, I talk for a living <laugh>, so I was absolutely like you. I thought I was just gonna walk in there. I did my audio book for two days and my throat was just gone. It's incredible.
Speaker 0 00:15:27 Yeah. It's, it's not, it's not easy, but I thought you did a great job. Um, what was the inspiration?
Speaker 1 00:15:35 Uh, I don't know if I had an inspiration, I, I'd had the motivation, which I think is a very different thing because, uh, and, and I reflect on it somewhat ironic that I wrote a book called an Immigrants Love Letter to the West, which is largely about where I think the west is going wrong. And I'm not unaware of that, that that sort of contradiction to some extent. I just think that we've got to a point in society where someone had to say the things that I, I I was, I'm saying in the book, and I didn't see anyone else saying them. And I also thought that I perhaps would have, and you know, one of the reasons I may be able to say is the fact that I'm a first generation immigrant and, and whatever allows me to say things that maybe somebody born in the West and raised in the West not only wouldn't necessarily be able to say because they don't have the outsider perspective, but even if they have the perspective, they're just not going to be allowed to say it.
Speaker 1 00:16:30 You know, publishing my book was not easy, and I imagine that if my name was John Smith and I was white and born in, in the uk it would've been a lot harder. So I think that's why I felt it wasn't so much inspiration. It was more, I felt a duty really to say something. And this is perhaps where, again, coming back to a lot of my thinking and my approach to life, where it comes from is, you know, I come from a society where people spend most of their time not saying what they thought and pretending to be okay with things that they were not okay with. And I'm not okay with some of the things that are happening in our society. I, I don't think they're the right thing that that should be happening. I'm in a fortunate position to be able to say something publicly, and I just felt it was necessary to do that.
Speaker 0 00:17:22 All right. I have more questions about the book, but we have questions coming in from the audience, so I want to dip into those. Candace Marinna on Facebook says, uh, she loves trigonometry. She says, You recently discussed your views on how to promote free speech and police hate speech. Could you go into that in more detail?
Speaker 1 00:17:45 I'm trying to remember what Candace is referring to. Um, I, I'm not, I'm not sure that, uh, I'm not sure. I know, I know what she's referring to, but, um, yeah, maybe she'll come back. Maybe she'll come back cuz that that's, that's a bit of a vague one and I, I I wouldn't wanna respond to something, something. Let's,
Speaker 0 00:18:03 Let's go to another Facebook question from Alex Kch asking, In America you hear about people leaving New York or California. Is there some parallel of people fleeing areas in the uk people voting with their feet?
Speaker 1 00:18:18 Ah, that's an interesting thing. This is, uh, the big advantage of living in the United States. You have, it's big states, Well, it's big, but also it, the way that it's federalized, it means that states get to set their own rules, right? Uh, so if a part of, if a part of the, the United States wants to have certain rules when it comes to, you know, the usual hub, you know, whatever issues you wanna bring up, that approach to covid or guns or, you know, other stuff, um, you, you get to choose. In the uk there is very little of that. Sure, you can move to Scotland. Uh, the weather's te I lived in Scotland for many years. The Scottish people are nice, but the weather's terrible and, and their government is even worse than the one that we have. Uh, and that's really about it. You don't have a lot of choice. Um, so, uh, there, there is not a, a huge amount of that going on beyond the, you know, the usual of people moving out of cities, uh, into, into the more rural areas for, for all sorts of different reasons, crime, cost of housing, et cetera.
Speaker 0 00:19:16 Interesting. That would be, But
Speaker 1 00:19:18 I'm very sorry. Ja, sorry to interrupt. I am very jealous of the United States. I know, you know, we were, uh, in Austin a few months ago doing the Joe Rogan show, and this is one of the things he was talking, we were talking about, you know, he moved from California to Austin and he's very happy at the stuff that he has and wasn't able to do in, in California. So I'm very, very jealous. Uh, and that's again, one of the, you know, I'm such a big fan of America. People all over the world like to dump on America, and I think it's quite often jealousy because you guys do a lot of things very well. Uh, and this is definitely one of them.
Speaker 0 00:19:56 All right, another question, uh, from Facebook. What is the best way to deal with bad faith actors? Uh, is the way you and Francis, is it the way you and Francis respond to David PackMan? So, I'm not sure who that
Speaker 1 00:20:14 Is. Uh, so David PackMan is a progressive commentator who we had on the show. Um, and we were very happy to have him on him. We had a very good faith conversation. Uh, at least we thought that, uh, because afterwards what he did is he completely misrepresented, uh, what had happened on his own channel. And it, it was, it became very clear that he wasn't there to have a conversation. He was there to win. Uh, and so we just put out a, a quick video just explaining what had happened, what he did, and that because we believe in conversation, we're gonna continue, continue to act in good faith, even when people like him come on the show and act in bad faith. Um, so, uh, yeah, I think that's it if you are in that sort of situation. But quite often you don't need to interact with people who are acting in bad faith. You know, I increasingly find that on social media. I just go, Okay, this person isn't, isn't interested in having a conversation, uh, let's not waste each other's time on it.
Speaker 0 00:21:10 So in your book, you talk about how political correctness, uh, existed in the Soviet Union long before it existed here. Thought that was really interesting.
Speaker 1 00:21:21 Well, it didn't just exist in the Soviet Union. It was created in the Soviet Union. This is my point, this is the point I was really keen to make in the book, is political correctness never had anything to do with politeness or protecting people's feelings, or not offending vulnerable groups or whatever. We now believe it has anything to do with political correctness, was a way of saying to you what you are saying may be factually true, but it is wrong for you to say it,
Speaker 1 00:21:51 It is wrong because it does not match the position of the party. It is wrong because it does not match the political line you're supposed to take, even if it is factually true. And, and that's the reason I bring it up in the book Jag, because I think we can all recognize it to some extent, political correctness is used in that way in the West as well, where it's not so much about, you know, we SATs like me, mock this, this is the idea of hate facts. There are certain facts that are true that you're not allowed to express cuz they're hateful. Well, if they're true, I think we should be able to express them. And that's why I think political correctness is important to highlight its origins because it kind of tells you how it often gets used today in the West as well.
Speaker 0 00:22:36 All right. Um, you said at some point that you almost wanted to call the book an immigrants love letter to the Anglo sphere. Uh, and is that correct? Um, and I think you talked about how the French had an obsession with reason and rationality versus the Anglo sphere's sense of tradition as a source of knowledge. Uh, what do you see the British and Scottish enlightenment, um, differing, uh, with the French enlightenment?
Speaker 1 00:23:08 Well, there was a huge difference. Uh, you know, if you look at the outcomes of the two revolutions, for example, are very different that the United, the foundation of the United States, uh, based on the ideas of the English and Scottish Enlightenment, uh, creates a very different type of society to the one that's created in the French Revolution, uh, which attempts to remake society from the ground up. It thinks that everything, uh, human beings can be reimagined, that, uh, human beings can be remade in the model of pure rationality and reason, of course, the end result is blood, terror, murder, death. And, um, it's a fundamental difference between, uh, those, uh, two approaches to, to, you know, transformation of society and structuring society. But it's also, I think, goes deeper than that. I'm a I'm, I'm a huge fan of, uh, Thomas Soul's work, and this is one of the things he writes about in a couple of his books, The Conflict, A Conflict, The Conflict of Visions, and the Vision of the Anointed. Um, that's
Speaker 0 00:24:09 A great book, especially that latter
Speaker 1 00:24:11 One. Yeah, Yeah. Well, they're both wonderful. And as you know, Ja, what he talks about is there are essentially two visions of humanity. To summarize it for our views and listeners, uh, one vision is what he calls the tragic vision, which is the idea that human beings are flawed, they're imperfect, they're fallible, uh, and therefore, when we make society's rules, we have to make them taking into account that human beings are human beings, they're imperfect. And the other approach is what he calls the unconstrained vision. It's not constrained by the tragic reality of life, and it, it believes that everything can be made from, uh, from the beginning, uh, human beings can be remain. This was the foundation to a large extent of the BOL Revolution, which created the US sign, which I was born. The idea was very much the same, You know, communism is the idea that you can get people to abandon their natural attitudes and aspirations in favor of the great to good.
Speaker 1 00:25:02 And, uh, maybe it'd be a good idea, uh, you know, for ants or mo rats who are, who are biologically, uh, shared dna, but for human beings who are, uh, inter competitive and tribal in many ways, it just doesn't seem to be a good way of doing things. And, and I might even agree with the sort of, uh, crazy progressives who think it would be better if human beings could be perfected, uh, and we could make a better society, and there would be no crime and no, you know, whatever, insert bad thing here, inequality. Uh, but uh, it turns out human beings aren't like that and attempts to make them like that, you know, result in millions of people being forcefully killed or deported or forced to, you know, live different life entirely, it it that they're not happy with. And those regimes inevitably collapse. So, uh, I think the, when I, when I, the reason I, I'm not so desperate to offend all my French and German and whatever other friends, I, it just, people often sort of go, Well, you say the West, what is the West? And I'm like, Well, you know, this is the portion of the West that I quite like, and let's talk about that.
Speaker 0 00:26:10 All right. On Instagram, um, is asking about the difference between allowing free speech and the choice to engage with people and their speech. Is it okay if there are people we don't wanna talk to?
Speaker 1 00:26:26 Of course.
Speaker 0 00:26:26 Sounds like you just said, you're kind of deciding no sanction of the victim on social media. If somebody is just there to harass you or if they're being irrational, you prioritize.
Speaker 1 00:26:38 Right. And this is one of the reasons I am excited about Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter in particular, because I think what he's talked about is, is kind of like the, the Google, when you search for things on Google, you get, like, no one goes to the third page of Google. So that's, cuz all the results on the first page of Google are great, right? So if you had the social media experience where you, people can say what they want, but you just don't get around to looking at it. If it's not stuff that's constructive or helpful if someone calling you a dick or whatever, uh, that to me is much better. I don't want people to be shut down. I don't want them not to have a Twitter account cuz I don't like them. I think that's kind of a high standard for, for, for allowing someone to have a, a voice. I think people should have a voice, but also, yeah, of course we don't have to listen to everything that somebody says. Um, and so any tool that allows us to allow people to speak, but also control what we choose to hear, I think that's great. And I think that's, that would take us forward.
Speaker 0 00:27:39 Yeah, and I think to extend that even further, Iran talks about free speech does not extend to forcing you to subsidize another's platform, right? So that, um, someone doesn't have, uh, the right to come in and shout, you know, obscenities on your lawn or in your driveway. Um, and I, I think that that is, is where we, we need to, to draw the line. Okay. This is a really interesting question on Facebook. Uh, James Covich asking, do you think there is a correlation between those who promote cancel culture and personality disorders?
Speaker 1 00:28:22 Uh, it's a complicated one because I'm not a psychiatrist, so I don't want to, I don't wanna give you my unqualified medical opinion, but yes, <laugh>, um, we, we've had a couple of people talk about how much of it is driven by narcissism, right? Uh, and I think that's an inevitable part of it. I also think that, um, cancel culture is, uh, representative of certain ways of doing things, which I wouldn't necessarily consider, you know, personality disorders or, or whatever. But it is, it's, uh, a lot of people have commented on it that it is a quite, um, again, please hear me correctly, it's a stereotypically more female or more feminine way of doing things. Men tend to fight directly. So men are more likely to challenge and to fight even directly, which obviously is bad in certain situations, whereas women will tend to destroy your reputation. They'll talk behind your back sometimes and whatever. So I see it as also partly as a changing of, uh, you know, who has power in society in terms of the dynamic between the stereotypical two sexes,
Speaker 0 00:29:32 Iwi 29 on Instagram is asking about differences between the culture wars, uh, us uk our big talking point here in the United States with regards to wokeness. You've had experiences in Britain, but you have, you know, gone back and forth. You have a lot of guests from the United States on your show. So how is, is, uh, the situation worse or better in Great Britain?
Speaker 1 00:30:00 I think that the situation in Britain is quite a bit better actually in many ways. Um, there is much more pushback, I think, against, uh, some of the excesses of this way of doing things. So, uh, you know, we, the, for example, in both countries you have clinics which are performing, uh, gender transition surgery on children, which to me is just an abomination. But in the uk the clinics that we're doing that, several of them have been shut down by the government pending investigations about children being encouraged down that path when they shouldn't have been. So it's terrible that it happened, but at least, you know, we're, we're taking some action in terms of making sure that, you know, people are getting the help they need without dragging other people into that conversation who really don't belong there. And I see that as, you know, one of the worst consequences of this culture, actually, you know, you know, pink heads idiots on Stu College campuses bother me less than children being encouraged to have permanently life altering medical procedures.
Speaker 1 00:31:06 So on that front, we're doing better. I think, uh, we are, uh, also less crazy in, in the way that we talk about these things. There's less hyperventilations because America is a very, uh, it's a high energy culture. You know, when you fight, you fight hard. When you do things, you do them full on. In the UK it's kind of like, ah, you know, we don't take things quite as, as seriously, and that has many disadvantages. But one of them is that when we do have these polarized situations in both our societies, perhaps we don't quite do that side of it as harsh harshly as, as you guys do in the us our media is probably less polarized as well. Um, we still have a bbc I mean, people argue over its impartiality of course, but it is a somewhat independent source of media. And generally, I just think, and also most importantly in terms of this conversation, least we don't have guns. So even if we do have a falling out, it's not gonna be quite as bad. Uh, so for those reasons, I'm, I'm quite optimistic actually, about the situation in the uk,
Speaker 0 00:32:14 But I think I've seen reports of regular people who say something, uh, that is considered hate speech on social media and Yeah. Gets sideways
Speaker 1 00:32:27 Arrested police. Yeah. Yeah, well see on that issue. I completely agree with you. We like, this is a huge advantage of the American constitution that I'm such, uh, that makes to me, America is such an appealing place, is you have enshrined the principle of free speech right in the heart. It's the first amendment for a reason. It matters really tremendously matters to, to your society. And on that issue. Yeah, no question about it, or you're absolutely right, uh, to pick me up on that. Ja, you know, we are much worse off on that side of things. Um, I hope we can win that battle because, you know, as, as I say, the more ordinary people start to see this happening, the more pushback there is. Um, but on that issue yet, you guys are, are doing much better. Um, and, uh, I wish we had a First Amendment.
Speaker 0 00:33:15 All right. Um, well, it's something that we are, I am very grateful for. Uh, and you and your partner talk a lot about gratitude, and you mentioned that in your studio. I think that, uh, even though you're not religious, you say a kind of secular grace when you're about to eat, uh, even giving thanks for people who made your life difficult in the past. And of course, Objectiveism is non mystical, uh, and atheistic. So I thought that was really intriguing that you, um, found a way to incorporate this, uh, as a ritual. But, uh, also in terms of your focus on gratitude more generally, which is a big theme of ours here at the Atla Society. We talk about gratitude as an envy to, um, as an antidote to envy and, and to resentment. So how can we help to encourage people, uh, to see the personal and social benefits of gratitude? You are naturally positioned to do that because you have this experience of growing up in another country and having, um, had relatives and members of your family that lived, uh, and suffered deeply under communism. And so that gives you a, as you say, that second site where you are. But, um, just more general thoughts on gratitude and how we can encourage it.
Speaker 1 00:34:47 Yeah, I think that's a really, I'm so glad you asked me that because I think it's such an important, uh, question. And, uh, I, this is actually one of those things that I don't think is anything to do with, uh, my background, because I wasn't actually always like this. Uh, I wasn't always grateful for the things that I had. Um, I will confess as well, it's a lot easier to be grateful for what you have when your life is great.
Speaker 0 00:35:12 It's saying better. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:35:13 Yeah. So from that perspective, I think that's probably part of it. But so for me right now, the idea of gratitude is I really don't want to, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm really blessed in, in terms of what's happening with my life. You know, I, I have a job that I love that allows me to put a roof over my family's heads. Uh, have a, a five month old, he's about to be six month old baby boy. Uh, you know, I have a meaning, I have purpose. I have enough money to survive. Uh, like what else could a man want? You know? So from that perspective, uh, I just a appreciate that so much. And also, uh, you know, we are building something very special with trigonometry and, and the process is incredible. And connecting with hundreds of thousands of people around the world and going on shows like the Joe Rogan experience and meeting people that I look up to and learning from them and being in conversations with all sorts of incredible people who are like super smart and from whom I can learn so much.
Speaker 1 00:36:13 That was always a huge dream for me, is being around people. Yes, I, I always like sharing my thoughts and I know that a lot of them respect my thoughts about certain things and my views of looking at things. But also it's like, you know, I went for, a friend of mine was in town, Chris Williamson from a YouTube channel, Modern Wisdom, and he was in town on his way to do something amazing in Africa. Uh, and he had like a, an 11 hour lay by in, in London. And I was like, Oh, hey, let me come down, grab you, We'll go to the gym. We'll, we'll, we'll uh, sit in the sauna, we'll have lunch afterwards. And we spent like six or seven hours together where like both of us come away from that conversation massively inspired and enlightened and having learned things and shared things and, uh, given each other advice and, and support.
Speaker 1 00:37:03 Like, that's amazing. I don't, I don't wanna miss that. So the reason that I spend so much time thinking about all these things that I'm grateful for and acknowledge them, is I wanna be present and notice that they're happening in the moment and be like, Oh, wow, this is incredible. Rather than being like the way I frankly used to be, where it was like, Oh, so what's the next thing? What am I doing next? What have I got tomorrow? What's my, you know, um, that I think being present naturally is helpful anyway. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, even if life is difficult, but particularly when life is going well, it's important to be present. So it's not something I picked up from going, Oh, let's compare myself to my grandparents in, in the go. Like, it's something I, you know, I spend a lot of time doing all sorts of personal development because I, I, I've always been interested in, uh, squeezing the most out of the resources that I've been given.
Speaker 1 00:37:55 You know, we all get dealt a certain, certain set of cards. I always wanted to make sure that I was making the most of the cards that I was dealt. And gratitude is a part of every major religion. It's also a part of almost every, uh, you know, personal development way of looking at things. If you wanna make your life better, being grateful is gonna make it better. Because one of the things people don't realize, and this is where, you know, the non mysticism part of, of objectives, I, I, I actually have issue with, or at least I disagree with because I'm quite a mystical person in many ways, because I, I believe that there are very complicated connections that maybe you can explain logically, but we don't have the tools to do that level of analysis yet. And so they might as well be mystical in the sense of, if you are grateful for the things that you have in life, that means you, you come across differently to other people that affects how they will treat you, whether they will help you, whether they will give you useful advice, whether they will lift you up or push you down.
Speaker 1 00:38:55 Uh, and so if you develop a disposition that makes it more likely that other people are attracted to you and want to work with you and want to help you, then more good things will happen in your life. Right? Uh, and so, uh, even from that sort of mys, you might call that a slightly mystical way of looking at things, um, but it, it's just experientially true that being grateful, uh, is something that makes your life better and it makes it, uh, more enjoyable. You, makes you a more enjoyable people person to be around for other Yeah, exactly.
Speaker 0 00:39:28 Yeah. I, I mean, I don't know if I would, when I say mystical or supernatural, I am talking about something that doesn't exist in reality. Yeah. And what I think you're talking about is the possibility of connections or, uh, things that might be unified in ways that we don't have a way of understanding or measuring. So
Speaker 1 00:39:54 The reason I say that, Jack, sorry to interrupt, is that, uh, I, I explained it in a lot of detail, whereas I think in any other normal conversation, if we hadn't brought up the mystical, non mystical, I would've just said, Your energy's different, and other people respond to your energy Now. Yeah. Is your energy something that exists? Ah, I don't know. But, but I do think there is such a thing as how you are affects how other people are with you. I think we don't recognize that.
Speaker 0 00:40:20 Absolutely. And actually what you're talking about sounds a lot like the particular kind of objectiveism that we promote at the, at society. Okay. Oh, brilliant. Which is, which is open objectiveism. And it is, uh, very much not just about, Hey, this is philosophy and we're going to impose it on you. But, um, being open and entrepreneurial and, and interested and tolerant to the way that other people may see things or, uh, their, their points of view. And just, just being open, giving people the benefit of the doubt, um, believing that there, there is inherent value to other people. And, uh, and that if you're open, and if you are, you are showing up, uh, as somebody who's benevolent and bringing something of value to the table, then you are, even in a self-interested way, probably gonna be somebody who's gonna make the connections that are gonna be helpful for you along the way.
Speaker 1 00:41:20 So. Well, those are awesome values,
Speaker 0 00:41:23 <laugh>. So we like it. It it works. Yeah. Uh, alright. Couple of very interesting questions that kind of dovetail a few that I had in the pantry. Um, one of which is something I'm always interested in, we're getting it from Janus on Instagram. You mentioned Lockdowns earlier. How was that for you? How did it change your outlook or mental positivity so you didn't have the opportunity to, Hey, we're gonna go to Florida mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So,
Speaker 1 00:41:56 Yeah. Uh, well, initially lockdown was incredibly good. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, because as I say, I hadn't been spending nearly enough time with my wife and suddenly we had all this free time and we'd go for like, walks and spend time together and do stuff. And, uh, it, it was incredible. The first lockdown was absolutely fantastic, uh, for me personally.
Speaker 0 00:42:20 But I also think, just to interrupt there, that given what we just talked about in terms of gratitude, that is a really healthy, I mean, I, I think I don't wanna whitewash or, uh, I'm, I'm not ready to move on. I'm not ready to call an amnesty. I think
Speaker 1 00:42:37 There needs to be no, me either, but I, I, yeah, I've got all things to say. Believe
Speaker 0 00:42:41 Me, you're, and I, and I, I wanna get to that, but that your ability, even in a difficult time saying, Hey, this is good, and find positives and certainly spending
Speaker 1 00:42:51 Time with, well, it was, it, it was beyond good. It was absolutely necessary. So, uh, I as someone who later developed a huge aversion to the subsequent lockdowns, I do, there is a part of me that comedically sort of thinks, you know, what a lockdown every 20 years probably would do a lot of people or are good just like couple of months where you're not allowed to go to work, you're not allowed to do everything the way you're used to, and you just are forced to reexamine your life for a couple of months, like once every 20 years. That actually might not be a bad thing, certainly, but you can do your own, I suppose. So, uh, but, but beyond that, I thought once we got past the first lockdown once, it was, because, you know, at the beginning we didn't know what it was.
Speaker 1 00:43:29 Nobody knew how deadly or not deadly it was gonna be. We didn't know how it spread exactly. Uh, maybe wasn't, you know, maybe it, if even if we say that that lockdown was a mistake, which I, at this point would agree, probably was a mistake, um, it was an understandable mistake in my opinion. But once you get past that and you know what this is, and you know how it works and you know how it transmits and you know that masks don't really work and you know, all this other stuff that we later learned, we, and, you know, and when, when the vaccine comes out, there's a lot of other things that you're told to believe, which later turn out not to be true. You know, people are forced to take it to protect other people. Even though the transmission, just the stopping transmission really wasn't strong enough to make that sort of claim at all.
Speaker 1 00:44:20 Right? All of the stuff I thought we went down a very, very dark path very quickly. And towards the end of it, I literally felt, you know, as someone who is grateful and as someone who, who had a great job throughout lockdown, you know, once I stopped standup, trigonometry happened to take off massively during that time, it became full-time job for us. It was great. You know, I was spending that time with my wife and my friends with whom I do the trigonometry. I had a good time, but by the end of it, I just thought that as a country or several countries, we were going down such a dark path when it comes to human freedom. The idea of liberty, the idea of bodily autonomy, which I think happens to, to be quite important and all of these other things that I actually thought we were in an emergency.
Speaker 1 00:45:08 And I think it was only the, the development of the Aron variant in the uk, which was much milder and the, the rising tensions to do with the restrictions, those two things combined allowed us to step back from the brink. I, I think that if Covid had continued to be a, as lethal as it had been prior to that, um, I suspect the government would've, certainly in our country would've carried on, carried on, attempting to, uh, continue to, you know, tighten the screws and, and reduce the amount of freedom of choice that you have and what you aren't allowed to do. And forcing you to have medical procedures. I mean, they were about to fire, um, I think 70 or 80,000 nurses from the National Health Service who didn't wanna take the, the, the covid uh, injection. Uh, and uh, this is at a time when the, the healthcare system is breaking apart cuz we don't have enough staff.
Speaker 1 00:46:09 And they were prepared to fire tens of thousands of nurses, doctors, and they did fire social workers or so, or carers in this country who again of whom there's a massive shortage just to force everybody to take a vaccination that doesn't protect anyone except the person who's taking it to say nothing of the fact that they were, by this point, millions and millions and millions of people who had natural immunity who did not need to be, uh, vaccinated at all. So, um, initially brilliant afterwards, I thought it's as close as we've come to a very, very dark place in, in our society in the time that I've been alive.
Speaker 0 00:46:48 All right. Uh, two questions, um, on subjects I want to make sure that we get to, uh, one is from my modern ga on Instagram, Thoughts on Brexit two years later.
Speaker 1 00:47:03 Uh, well, it's six years later since Brexit, isn't it? Uh, it was, it happened in 2022. Uh, but, um, I voted to stay in the eu, uh, and, uh, I I was perfectly fine with that position. We don't know how that would've gone exactly. Might have been better, might have been worse. Uh, what I was horrified about is people who voted differently to me, uh, who happened to be a small majority at the time, were immediately treated as if they were some sort of second class citizens, because they happened to express a different opinion politically to mine. I always argued from the beginning that we had a vote and we have to accept the results of that vote and, and proceed accordingly. Uh, but it turned out that there were millions of people in this country who, uh, who simply refused to lose. Uh, they, they, they had sour grapes and they wanted to continue to, uh, express their frustrations about losing in such a way that I thought was disgusting.
Speaker 1 00:48:02 I thought it was outrageous, uh, the way that they tried to attack people who simply had a different political view as being motivated by the most evil things in, you know, in, in human society. Uh, it, it was just, uh, outrageous. But in terms of my own opinion, uh, I, Brexit hasn't been a massive success. I also think it hasn't been a clean experiment because, uh, we've had the covered lockdowns, uh, the war in Ukraine and all of these other things that obviously have a massive impact on how things are going. Um, so I, I think it's very hard to judge. It's probably, it's, it's like, I think it was one of the Chinese, uh, leaders was once asked what was his view of the French Revolution? And he said, it's too soon to tell, um, with Brexit, it's definitely too soon to tell. Yeah, I think it's very early days and how that issue is actually gonna play out.
Speaker 0 00:48:55 And another, another, uh, basket of questions we're getting on Ukraine and Russia particularly. You have family, uh, in both. And, um, so I think you had said at one point that the purpose of what Russia was doing in the Ukraine was to throw the west off its pedestal. Uh, is that correct? And and what what did you mean by that?
Speaker 1 00:49:23 Well, I did say that, but actually there is one other person who said it much better than me, and that's Lima Putin, uh, in almost every speech he's given since before the invasion. And afterwards, uh, I've translated his last two speeches for my sub stack. Uh, and you can see from the horse's mouth in his last speech that he gave, uh, uh, at the Valdai Discussion Club, which is essentially, uh, like Russia's, uh, Davos, it's the Russian of Davos. They get delegates from all over the world. Uh, and, um, he was pitching to them essentially a new world order in which he calls a multipolar world, uh, in which the United States and its allies are not in the position that they're currently in. Uh, and that lots of other countries, uh, now decide in a sort of what he called democracy. I'm using quotation marks, uh, uh, for everybody listening.
Speaker 1 00:50:16 Uh, you know, he, he was offering them a democratic global order as he put it. But, uh, yeah. And, and he, he, one of the things he said in that speech is that the UN Security Council, uh, needs to be changed, uh, to reflect the fact that, you know, this new arrangement, if you like. So he's deliberately attempting to weaken the West. Um, he's, his entire approach to Ukraine is I dentist. Uh, and the, what he wants is people go, Well, Vladimir put is not a communist. He's not trying to rebuild the sr. And I agree, he's not, he's actually trying to rebuild the Russian Empire. Uh, he's very critical of, of Vladimir Landon, for example. And, uh, uh, other revolutionaries who broke up the Russian Empire and created the S Sr because a lot of land was lost, uh, in the collapse of the Russian Empire.
Speaker 1 00:51:08 Uh, he would like it to be taken back. Uh, this is why he's very critical of, uh, the Soviet leader Nikita Cru ship, because he, uh, trans, uh, transferred Ukraine, uh, the Crimee to, uh, the, the Ukrainian sss r uh, and um, that's basically his entire game. So he, he, he wants to rebuild, uh, the Russian Empire. He wants a new world order in which America is not no longer calling the shots. And the amazing thing to me is people are always asking me this question, I, I'm not saying you did in this way, but they're like, you're saying the super controversial thing. I'm like, No, guys, it's what Vladimir Putin's saying, Maybe, maybe we should listen to the guys doing it. Is that, is that controversial? Is that <laugh>, is that outrageous here? Am I being weird here that I'm saying maybe we should listen to the guy who's doing the invading to find out why he's invading,
Speaker 0 00:52:01 And we put that link, uh, in the comments sections of the platform, so people should, should go and, um, check that out. And also, uh, if you haven't already though, it looks like, uh, unsurprisingly we have quite a few fans of trigonometry already in the audience. Um, but I'm curious, how did that podcast start for you? And have you and Francis been friends a long time and just decided to pull this together? Or what was the origin story of, of trigonometry?
Speaker 1 00:52:34 Well, we were two standups on the comedy circuit, and I became a regular performer, a comedy club that Francis used to run help run. Um, and, uh, so I was there a lot. We, we talked, I think it became very clear that we were both, uh, not on board with a lot of the things that were happening in our industry, uh, because some of the cultural changes you and I have talked about in the course of this conversation, uh, were happening in comedy earlier, faster, harder, at a more expanded rate in, in every way. Uh, and it was becoming very apparent that the culture was, you know, going in this direction. Um, so it became quite clear that neither of us was particularly on board. And I was looking around at the time, and you gotta remember, you know, starting a podcast in 2020, everyone's like, Oh, another podcast.
Speaker 1 00:53:23 But back then there was, was a lot fewer, particularly YouTube shows, and suddenly there weren't, basically none in the UK at that time. Now there's quite a few, um, doing what we do. Uh, and, uh, you know, I've been watching people like, uh, Joe Rogan and, um, Dave Rubin was having some interesting conversations at that time because he was in that kind of, you know, I'm a liberal and I kind of don't really get what's going on. And he was sort of in that place, which I found very interesting, uh, because I always find that much more interesting than people who have like a very clear political, you know, grouping. Interesting. Yeah. I, I find that less appealing. Uh, but at that point, that's what he was doing, and I found that fascinating. And Joe Rogan's always been having these conversations and there were a few other people, uh, doing it.
Speaker 1 00:54:10 And, uh, I, I really wanted to do it. That that's, that's what interested me. Uh, and, uh, I thought that Francis would be a good pairing for me because I can sometimes disappear quite far into the overly intellectual side of things, and he's gonna always gonna be there to ask the question that actually most people wanna hear the answer to, you know? And so there's a bit of intellectual stuff, and then there's the bit more, uh, grounded stuff and then layer a bit of comedy into it. Uh, and then I, I thought we, we could do something good. Uh, so, you know, I suggested it, and Francis, uh, had, he actually had, uh, he, I think her relationship with him is a rebound relationship, you might say, because he'd just been, uh, doing a podcast with somebody else. And, uh, he was, he was very good. It was a pure comedy podcast, but it didn't work out between the two guys doing it. So I came along and I was like, Hey, do you wanna do this? And I think he was keen to do something, uh, but he was also a bit raw from his previous experience, but eventually we, we, we found a ma a way to make it work. And, uh, the rest is history.
Speaker 0 00:55:15 Yeah. Well, I guess sometimes rebound relationships do work. <laugh>,
Speaker 1 00:55:19 <laugh>,
Speaker 0 00:55:21 Uh, well, we're coming up to the top of the hour. I wanna put, uh, the cover of Constantine's book up again. And, uh, again, highly recommend the audible version, especially now that we understand the sacrifices that he went through to
Speaker 1 00:55:39 Edit that
Speaker 0 00:55:39 For us. Uh, so any closing thoughts or new projects on the horizon for you?
Speaker 1 00:55:49 Yeah, well, there are always new projects. Uh, I'm someone who doesn't believe in, uh, saying things until I'm ready to sort of commit to them, uh, with my word. But there, I'm always working on new stuff and I've got some very cool, exciting things that I'll be doing it over the next few years. Uh, so the, yeah, there's plenty more to come. Uh, but in terms of closing thoughts, no, I just, uh, I, I wanted to, to say how much I appreciate you having me on. It's been a real pleasure. Um, I think, uh, you know, there is so much, uh, fighting and anger and destruction of each other's opinions happening on the internet. Like you and I have had this conversation. The truth is, I have absolutely no idea whether you've agreed with most of what I've said or not, and you,
Speaker 0 00:56:36 Most of it, I'd say, I'd say, uh, 85%,
Speaker 1 00:56:39 But, but even if it was 10%, it doesn't really matter because we had a good conversation. So what does it matter whether you and I agreed on everything? Of course, you know, 15% is, is a small amount to disagree with me on, you know, five years from now. I'll probably disagree with 60% of what I've said today, but, um, you know, I just think the space to have discussions without necessarily feeling like there has to be agreement or disagreement where we can just have a conversation. I think it's a, it's a wonderful and rare thing and I really appreciate you, uh, creating that space for us to talk today.
Speaker 0 00:57:12 And it's, uh, good practice because Thanksgiving is coming up and only Republican in my family, so, Right. Um, practicing a bit of, uh, opens as our founder said, If we are wrong, then we have something to learn. And if we are right, then we have nothing to fear. So that's why it is good to be open to talking with people. It is not a sanction, uh, to just hear somebody else's point of view and, uh, in return have the opportunity to share yours. So Constantine, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it, and thank you so much for the work that you do.
Speaker 1 00:57:50 Thank you, Ja, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Speaker 0 00:57:53 And thanks all of you who joined us. Thank you for the excellent questions that you submitted. You make my job easier if you enjoy the work of the Atlas Society. Again, we are a nonprofit, so please consider, uh, making a tax deductible [email protected]
. And join us next week. I'm going to be interviewing, uh, Gro Norquist. Uh, as you may recall, he was a guest, uh, in maybe the first week of, uh, these webinars that we started back during the Lockdowns, dear friend of mine, founder of Americans for Tax Reform. And we're gonna be doing a reassess, uh, review of the elections and looking at what comes next. So thanks everybody.