The Atlas Society Asks Kmele Foster

July 01, 2021 01:03:54
The Atlas Society Asks Kmele Foster
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
The Atlas Society Asks Kmele Foster
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Kmele Foster is a political commentator who is the co-host of the podcast The Fifth Column. A producer and writer, he co-founded Freethink Media, an online video platform dedicated to telling stories about human perseverance, inspiration, and progress. Foster is also an entrepreneur and the co-founder of TelcoIQ, a Maryland-based telecommunications consultancy.

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Speaker 0 00:00:00 The Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer Anji Grossman. My friends know me as JAG. I'm the CEO of the Atlas society. We are the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in creative ways, like our graphic novels, animated videos, you know, the score. And you may also know our guests, Camille foster, who has just exploded onto the national scene before I even get to introduce him. I want to remind all of you who are joining us on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. You can use the comment section to type in your questions. Please make them short. We'll get to as many of them as we can. So Camille foster is the co-founder of free think a media company that showcases the technological and social innovations, uh, that are disrupting and accelerating progress in our world. He is the co-host of the podcast, the fifth column. Uh, he is a, um, outspoken individualist, and also a outspoken, uh, libertarian critic of black lives matter, critical race theory and political orthodoxy. Um, but Camille advances, not just provocative, but I think extremely nuanced perspective on things like affirmative action and cancel culture that don't quite fit into a soundbite, which is why we're so grateful to dig into some of these issues at greater length today. Camille, welcome again. Thanks for joining us Speaker 1 00:01:43 So much for the invitation and for the, uh, for the generous introduction. I think my, my propensity for nuance and my inability to summarize they didn't number of a context often makes it really hard for me to do like cable news hits successfully. Um, so I'm always delighted to have opportunities like this where we can go a bit wider. Speaker 0 00:02:04 Well, yes, because if there's one phrase that, you know, you've repeated again and again on your various podcasts and interviews is it's complicated. Speaker 1 00:02:14 It's complicated. Yes. Yeah. As a raise on veterans Speaker 0 00:02:20 One, uh, one of those, um, so, okay, here we are in an age of identity politics and you identify, you identify as a lot of things. Do you identify as a father, a husband, an American, a libertarian, an entrepreneur, um, most broadly as a human being, but you don't identify as black. So, you know, explain what, what do you mean by that? Speaker 1 00:02:53 Well, I think the best way to explain it is to say, maybe begin like this, all of the designations that you just referenced are facts about my life and my experience, my legal status, personal convictions, at least all but one. Um, the notion of distinct human races is very different. Uh, it's just kind of this muddled contrivance with a ton of, uh, historical and philosophical baggage attached to it that most people never bother to scrutinize. Um, what is it that we are talking about when we talk about blackness or whiteness? Are we talking about ancestry biology, genetics? Not really. Um, it's, it's something broader than that. And I think what I've come to understand is that race is really an ideological framework. Um, and by, by self identifying in that way, we really kind of adopt this ideological framework that's been handed down to us. Speaker 1 00:03:46 And, uh, one thing that I'm very careful about is glomming onto any sort of philosophical baggage, um, or, or tool kits without really scrutinizing them. Um, and I find that just when I think about myself and I think about just how jealously I guard my individuality and the, the sort of sense of myself. I cannot find a way to reconcile, I think, any contemporary notion of racial identity with a robust understanding of who I am as an individual, um, erase in virtually every context that I encounter. It tends to obscure things, uh, as opposed to make them more clear. Um, so that is why I don't choose to self identify that way. And whether people like it or not, I grant them the dignity of their own individuality as what, oh, I try not to make assumptions about people on the basis of their race. Speaker 0 00:04:43 I love the way that you use the word jealous. You know, envy is a theme. We focus on a lot here at the Atlas society and, uh, jealousy and envy are used interchangeably. And, you know, iron ran described envy as the hatred of the good for being good, but jealous, uh, you know, it can be a negative, it can talk about a fear of losing what you have as opposed to coveting, uh, what somebody else has. But in, in a positive sense, I think it can be, uh, like, uh, a guard, uh, God jealously guarding his, his powers and prerogatives that there actually is a positive connotation to it as well. Um, another term that I've seen, uh, associated with you is, uh, race abolitionist, uh, abolition of course, has a, his history of abolition of slavery, but how have you understand the term? Speaker 1 00:05:48 Um, well, it's funny race. Abolitionist is something that I, I may have coined. Um, but to the extent I did it, I did it half jokingly. Um, I think it does appropriately describe some attribute of my public project, um, which is, um, I'm very much committed to trying to share my understanding and beliefs about what race is and the various ways that it, whether we know it or not divides us obscures the truth and generally ruins everything. So if I can get more people to acknowledge the fact that the world is in fact complicated, that things aren't are often not what they seem. Um, and that race in particular seems to play a very unique role in undermining our capacity to engage with one another in fruitful ways, um, and to understand the world and important respects and complicated issues. Um, then I, I feel like I'm, I'm doing sort of something good for the world. So I'm the, I'm the John Brown of race. I hope perhaps perhaps my end won't be quite so cataclysmic. Yes, Speaker 0 00:06:53 We, we hope not, Speaker 1 00:06:55 But I hope so radical just a little bit, Speaker 0 00:06:58 You know, it's, it's really interesting, you know, we do these, uh, draw my life videos. I was inspired a few years ago. I saw various celebrities doing these kind of stick figure drawings on a whiteboard that gets speed ramped. And we did one on Rand. And then we did one on a couple of characters from her novels and then our chairman Jay, uh, really encouraged us to take these concepts and to give them a narrative and to give them a, um, a history and a goal. And, and, uh, and we've done that, you know, with envy, with greed, with victimhood, with money with America, uh, I mean, we've done dozens by now, but one that we tried to do and we just couldn't even get a consensus. And it just, we tried to do my name is racism. Um, and there was, it was interesting. One of the producers I was working with, you know, he, he kind of took more of your position, which is that it's a, it's a fiction or that it's a concept that doesn't really have a lot of, uh, meaning, but you know, in the middle of last year, I just didn't see a plot line of like, hi, my name is race and I don't exist. So, um, yeah, so maybe we'll, we'll take another crack at that with you on the, at the helm. I mean, Speaker 1 00:08:21 If I could interject briefly, cause I find that very interesting. And even, even the phrase, as you say, you know, race doesn't have a lot of meaning that feels like something I've probably said before, but I think it's, it's obviously true that race has a great deal of meaning what it lacks is precision. It means all manner of things to different people in different contexts. Um, and we, we use it in ways that suggest it means a great deal of things in context that it's simply can't mean nearly as much as, as we imagine. And if we were actually confronted about it and pushed, we would have to acknowledge those limitations. Um, so yeah, it is, it's a peculiar, a peculiar thing. Um, and I think it's kind of uniquely and distinctly American in some respects. And what's been most amazing perhaps about the last like 14 odd months is the degree to which we've managed to successfully export our race Monomania to other parts of the world and ignite some really insane, uh, cultural conflicts on other continents. So yay. Go America. Speaker 0 00:09:23 Yeah. Yeah. Um, well I want to remind everybody who's, who's watching, uh, to, to please ask your questions for Camille. This is a really unique opportunity. Um, this guy gets paid a lot of money to, uh, to give advice and to, um, to give his view. So he was very generous to agree to come on and share his thoughts with us today. So let's please take advantage of that. Um, so Camille, you had, you've said that, uh, America has never been less racist in its history, and I could probably have agreed with that, uh, two years ago, but, um, you know, I, and there is a, is a viewpoint that while we've had this reckoning and we're talking about it, isn't that good and we've made progress. Is there a possibility that, um, just kind of the obsession, the, the, uh, overlay of kind of a victimology, um, talking about race in our institutions, our schools, media entertainment government, uh, at the very least that it makes us more race conscious if not racist, uh, and then could confuse just both a, um, an identification as, as a, as a victim, um, and which is not necessarily specific as, as you've pointed out to, to the, the race discussion, you know, there, there is a certain, uh, a certain cache, you know, a certain power with, uh, calling yourself a victim. Speaker 0 00:11:07 Um, although I think also it's pretty disempowering, uh, you know, and, and also on the other hand that it could fuel kind of exasperations, you know, and, and resentment, um, that, that among whites that's maybe not helping race relations. So do you still have this positive view? Has it changed? What are your thoughts? Speaker 1 00:11:29 Yes. And yes. Um, I certainly still hold that view and I can, I can talk about that. Um, but I also think you're right, uh, that we, we are increasingly race conscious in ways that I think are unhelpful. Uh, we've seen some recent pew polling, um, that suggests that, uh, public opinion about the state of race relations has declined, um, over the course of the past two decades, which is kind of remarkable. Um, and after, after making substantial progress, and it might even be like the past, like 10 years, um, and not so much the past two decades, but it's certainly not headed in the right direction. Um, that said, I mean, I think in a fundamental sense, there is kind of a philosophical progression that's taking place like that, that moral arc that bends towards justice, that Martin Luther king referred to with respect to race. Speaker 1 00:12:15 Um, it is universally accepted at this point in the United States that people of any ethnic background ought to be able to get married to one another. We don't have miscegenation laws on the books anymore that prohibit that sort of thing for the most part. Um, and in much the same way. Um, people generally the overwhelming majority of Americans, whore racism, they hate it. They may disagree over the definition of that thing, but they all hate it. They don't want to be called racist. Um, unless you're Robin de Angelo and things are a little more complicated there. Um, but they, they try not to be racist. There's even to the extent there's a disagreement about this sort of stuff today, like a whole contingent of people who refer to themselves as anti-racist, which is again, another kind of complicated thing. Um, and I think in a fundamental sense, the United States does not have formal, formal prohibitions against different races, doing all manner of things and has adopted a legal tradition that actually makes it impossible for states to do certain things to people on the basis of their race. Speaker 1 00:13:26 Um, now there have been new developments that kind of complicate that picture, affirmative action laws complicate that picture. Um, I think some of the things that we've seen recently with the renewed commitment to equity and diversity and inclusion, um, at the federal level and in other contexts, um, complicates that picture. But I think those are materially different challenges than the ones that have plagued the United States for most of its history. Um, and I would say that there was almost certainly more consciousness of your race as an American in this, in the United States, 150 years ago than there is today. You know, there's this kind of, ever-present notion of it in the New York times in a way that makes us like kind of weirded out any good, good thoughtful person is weirded out by seeing this capital be black all over the place. Um, but I don't think that's nearly the same thing as knowing that you need to like step off of the sidewalk. Speaker 1 00:14:16 If you're a black man walking down the road, or you have to wonder about whether or not you can apply to Harvard or Yale, because they don't let people like you. And they're like, it is now it's more so a function of choices, like meaningful choices and the universe of options that people have available to them regardless of their racial background. I mean, it's just, it's unrivaled in the history of this country with respect to that. So in a material sense, we've never been better off. And in other respects, we have the same sort of age old challenge that we've had for a very long time getting out of our own way and refusing to permit tribalism, to dictate how we'll interact with one another. And that's a choice that we have to make. It's perhaps even a bit of a forever war where we'll always have to contend with impulses in the, in the wrong direction there. Speaker 0 00:15:03 So everything you've just said sounds pretty reasonable to me, uh, and intact a lot of what you said back in January on, uh, the Del Mar show sounded pretty reasonable criticism of equity as focusing on outcomes rather than opportunity a concern that when we're talking about COVID, perhaps we should talk about, you know, risk factors rather than, uh, trying to view it through the lens of racial justice. Um, but a lot of people were kind of blown away and, uh, had had some issues with what you were talking about. Was, was there one point in particular or, uh, you know, one issue that, that really struck a nerve with people? And were you, were you surprised by, by the blow back? Speaker 1 00:16:00 Uh, not at all surprised by the blow back. Um, I was perhaps a bit taken aback by the, the, the strength of the affirmative response people who just responded very positively to the appearance, which was great. Um, in a number of instances, it wasn't people who were, felt comfortable responding publicly, got a lot of messages and emails, people who would find my email address and send me messages. Um, just saying, thank you so much for articulating these things. It's something I've thought about a lot, and haven't been able to put it into words or I've thought precisely the same thing, but I don't feel safe saying these things publicly, which is more often than not the case. Um, and if anything, I suppose I'm somewhat struck by just how common a theme that is and how, how very tangible, um, a sense I have of just how many Americans kind of feel, but they can't share things. Speaker 1 00:16:50 Um, these days that they are publicly put in a position where they have to either disavow their actual beliefs or not state their actual beliefs, because they, they worry they'll get in trouble for kind of disagreeing with certain, certain views in different contexts. Um, and I mean, in terms of the, the specific thing that I said that people agreed with, or that resonated with them or that they disagreed with, I think it's probably easier to characterize like the nature of the disagreement. Like more often than not the backlash seem to be rooted in. You're not allowed to speak for us and you're not allowed, which is to say, you're not allowed to speak on behalf of black people. You have the wrong ideas for someone who looks like you and you are there for an uncle, Tom cocoon, a house Negro, although they weren't so polite and, um, Speaker 0 00:17:42 Right. Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:17:45 Which means, you know, I never, I never made a claim to be speaking anyone else's behalf. I I've only ever publicly speak on my own behalf. And to the extent I'm doing more than that, I'm pretty narrow and specific about it. And I'm certainly not a person who goes out and speaks on behalf of the black community. I, I try not to even talk in those terms. Um, so it's, it's interesting that that's usually the substance of the response to things that I say publicly. Um, and that's not to say that I don't occasionally make mistakes so that some people don't make meaningful counter arguments, but most of the time, it's not that most of the time, it's just how dare you, how dare you have the wrong opinion for someone who looks like you. Um, we look too much alike for you to disagree with me publicly your, your degrading, my authority in various areas and on various issues by publicly taking positions that contrast sharply with mine, um, which you're welcome as I suppose my response to that. Speaker 0 00:18:46 Well, and you said you'd also received responses. Like they were ashamed that they Speaker 1 00:18:51 Yeah. Which is bizarre. I mean, why, why would anyone want to feel pride or shame or guilt on account of something you had nothing to do with the behavior of someone who you've never met, you have no relation to even, and even that I find a bit odd. Um, but I suppose those are, those are sentiments that are probably very familiar to anyone who's familiar with objectivism and Randy and Randy aneurysm broadly, I suppose, objectivism Randy aneurysm. I don't know if both are okay. Speaker 0 00:19:20 Well, yeah, it was interesting in the, in the Mike Wallace, um, interview that she did, she asked what he asked, what did, what, how does she felt about Randy aneurysm? And she said, I don't like that term objectivism, so we don't use it, but I, I think it's common Parlin. So, um, well, and, and I was pleasantly surprised perhaps I shouldn't have been just because I I've read your, your, uh, public, you know, interviews. And, um, you've mentioned some of the chief influences that you've had, uh, stemming more from Austrian economics, but, um, but that your Randian or objectivist, um, influences are actually a lot, a lot deeper than, than that. Uh, having read multiple times Atlas shrugged and, and the fountain had, uh, and philosophy who needs it. And also, um, as a writer, rans w works on non-fiction writing. So, uh, I think she has something, I, I thought her, um, analysis and, and the way that she described racism as a primitive barnyard version of, of collectivism, I thought it was really helpful because, I mean, it's, you know, when you say this is not just about racism and race, you know, kind of division, but that this, this collective identity, and certainly, uh, using it as, as grievance and trying to set up these, these conflict matrix sees it's not specific to race. Speaker 1 00:21:10 Yeah. I mean, when, when Ron talks about things like pride and shame in her work, um, I, it, it always resonates with me in a really profound way. Like these, these are decisions and choices that we're making the notion of having pride in something that you had nothing to do with that, that, you know, it is just it's happenstance, um, is, is obscene to me. I can appreciate coming out of a circumstance where you've been made to feel shame on account of certain attributes that you have, um, and wanting to push back against that by cultivating some sort of pride, which is, you know, how you end up with James Brown screaming, I'm black and I'm proud. Um, but I think it's important to acknowledge that that is a pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction, that, that doesn't make it virtuous, that it is possible to over respond to some past injury. Speaker 1 00:22:04 And I think that that's, that's precisely what happens there. And yeah, I've, I've, I've read Atlas shrugged and the Fountainhead, uh, multiple times. And I think what, I've, what I most enjoy about those books and took away from them was that there is this very kind of pure distillation of, of a personal philosophy there. Um, and that was something that I found intensely attractive, whether or not I agreed with like every aspect of what was there. Um, I, I really wanted to embrace the challenge that Rand, I think, outlines perhaps most potently in that the spaceman story that she told at the beginning of philosophy who needs it, that you, you are here on this remarkable planet you have, and again, is it remarkable or not? That's another thing, but you're here, you're on this planet, you have these tools. Do you trust them? Do you try to cultivate an understanding of the space around you? Or do you wait for someone to tell you what to do? And if you do, there may be profound consequences to that. That aren't great for you. Um, and, uh, I am not content to have someone tell me what to do and almost any circumstance, which is, you know, perhaps a gift and a curse. Speaker 0 00:23:17 Yeah. And, and Ram's kind of, um, her perspective on the heroic, you know, and, and the ideal and, uh, understanding, you know, I think it's bound up also with, with pride, you know, that we just, um, we're not necessarily proud of things that we have nothing to do with, but the things that we have accomplished or realized against great odds. And, uh, and, you know, in that regard, particularly with what you were talking about, the overwhelming response that you got to your appearance on, um, on Mar from people that said, I agree, but I don't, I, I feel afraid to, to speak up, I'm going to get canceled something, you know, people aren't going to like me, I'm going to lose my job. So, you know, to the extent that you are, and you are going out there, you're braving the says, um, you're braiding these slurs and these smears. Uh, and, uh, and, and you're doing that for people who, who don't feel strong enough to do it. I think that there's something heroic in, in that. And, um, I, I also think that, you know, we need perspective. We need a more nuanced, uh, take on these issues, but we also need courage. And, um, and, and that is probably in shorter supply today in times past. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:24:49 As you're talking, I'm remembering. Um, I, and I think I maybe mentioned this before we started recording. I have a tattoo on my forearm. It's actually, uh, something that I adopted from Ludwig Von Mises. It's an Austrian economist, as you mentioned, but there was a moment there where it was very nearly this passage from the Fountainhead, which it was just too long. And my wife was like, you can't do it. Uh, but it, it was, it began like, this is my pride. And it talks about people approaching the end of their life and having been confronted with this question, what was the use and the meaning and the responses I was the use in the meeting. Yeah. Yes, yes. That, I think that's from Anthem. Yeah. And that's just another, another thing that I've really just embraced as, as my own. I mean, I think that's, it's really important to be able to account for your time here that there's something unique and particular about you and your opportunity to do something on this planet. Um, and, um, yeah, it's, it's, it's, it's something that has always stayed with me. Speaker 0 00:25:56 Yeah. I think it's also interesting. You, you identify among other things as a, as a libertarian and something that I sometimes wish we have more emphasis on in libertarian circles is his responsibility. And it's, it's kind of taken for granted. I don't think it's necessarily being discounted, but it's, it's, uh, we, we focus on, well, this bad thing, shouldn't be, um, outlawed and you know, this other bad things, shouldn't be outlawed. And, and maybe, uh, that just implies a value neutrality. And I always say, you know, what are you going to do with your freedom? And, um, that, that you should have the freedom to do, to do good. And, uh, that, that needs to be emphasized more. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:26:47 Yeah. Libertarian isn't does not, does not prescribe a great deal in that respect. You know, don't, don't, uh, don't hurt people. Don't take their stuff is kind of pretty much is pretty much it, but what, what should you do with your time here? I mean, you really do. I think having you owe it to yourself to give that some careful thought, and it does seem to me that when it comes to, you know, having good outcomes and living a life that you can be proud of, that there are particular virtues, particular customs, particularly the habits that are most conducive to that. Um, and it's worth trying to figure out what those things are for yourselves. And I think that goes beyond the spectrum of what sort of classical liberal libertarian philosophy can offer you, which is primarily about like the political means for organizing society and what the limitations ought to be, and the things that ought to do. And to the extent it's doing anything, how it ought to do it. Speaker 0 00:27:40 Yeah. I, I agree. And I think that was a bit of, of Rams, uh, criticism, which was also, you know, contextually at a certain time in history. But, uh, but that there was, uh, not enough of a emphasis on, on values and, you know, it was the politics of laissez-faire economics and objectivism of course encompasses a lot, a lot more than that. Um, all right. I want to, again, encourage people to, to ask questions. I know that been a lot of people waiting for this interview, but I want to ask another one of my own, um, going off of that appearance that you had on the bill Maher show, um, you said you found the term systemic racism, frustrating because it categorizes things without helping us to, to fix them in any material way first, you know, maybe you could just help what is meant by systemic racism as opposed to institutional racism. Are they the same? And then to the extent that, you know, disparities may be the clue like, Hey, this is not the ideal situation, um, what, you know, where should we be looking for some of, some of the solutions? Speaker 1 00:29:03 Yeah, well, we'll here again, and you probably won't be surprised by this, um, systemic racism there, there's not broad agreement on precisely what this means. Um, I think I've encountered a number of academics and journalists who would generally apply the label, systemic racism to any kind of instance where there's a social outcome or a societal outcome that produces disparities between different racial groups and those disparities are themselves systemic racism. So that's a definition for a phenomena that we observe, um, which doesn't tell me anything about exactly why this happened, how it happened, whether or not it was even a quote unquote bad or a good that had happened. I don't, I'm not sure why, how those values actually actually ended up getting mixed up in there. Um, but it, it seems to me that it, because race and racism are so, um, freighted and so loaded with connotations that we come away from, you know, an entanglement with something that's been labeled as systemically racist with particular set of concerns and a particular set of thoughts about how we ought to think about this thing. Speaker 1 00:30:07 Um, and I, I think the context that context generally tends to make it harder for us to think carefully about what actually may be going on under the hood, you know, to say that, um, black students and white students are having different kinds of academic outcomes in their, in their high school. Um, doesn't really tell me a great deal at all, in any sort of meaningful sense. Are there things that kids who are doing well in this school, regardless of their race, like all have in common, like that's interesting if I'm actually interested in helping more kids to do well. Um, so unfortunately the conversation about systemic racism generally becomes all about the disparities. It becomes all about the, the underperformance. And of course, if you think about it long enough, you realize very quickly that in order to deal with a universe where there are disparities and there will be because inequalities are everywhere and our differences are actually something we can leverage to make the world a much better place, um, through markets, et cetera. Speaker 1 00:31:04 Um, but if you, if you just want to level the playing field, you can do that in two different ways. You can, you know, lift up the people who are at the bottom, or you can chop off the heads of the piece. Well, who are at the top. And I think in very real senses, I feel as though we kind of like lurch towards that ladder, that ladder course, when we adopt say a policy that puts more of an emphasis on race when it comes to, uh, uh, uh, dreaded pestilence that is spreading across the land and has us all like huddled in our homes, uh, hoping for some sort of ride committee, we know that age is the thing that made one uniquely vote COVID along with whether or not you had any sort of comorbidity is the correlation with race seems to be kind of happenstance. Speaker 1 00:31:56 Are there historical roots to that maybe, but the notion that you would prioritize that in any universe, um, strikes me as just absurd and quite frankly, like self destructive, like you will kill people with a policy of that sort. And it's something certain policy makers would have had, had to acknowledge eventually context. Um, and, uh, again, our obsessive kind of Monomania with respect to race, um, has led us down a lot of really dangerous dead ends. Um, and in many instances it's not so much dangerous is just hopelessly counterproductive. I don't have a profound fear that we're kind of approaching a race war. Um, I do worry where for going a great deal of potential productivity and growth and just personal, personal happiness, um, for the benefit of this ridiculous commitment that we've all made to this preposterous backwards way of imagining ourselves and the differences and the things that make us different from one another and similar to one another. Um, and it's, uh, it's obscene. I think we ought to, we ought to be committing ourselves to growing the hell up. Speaker 0 00:33:05 Speaking of productivity. Uh, we have a question here from the chairman of the Atlas society, Jayla pear, joining us on zoom. Yay. Um, he asks, what are the drivers and experienced with critical race theory, DEI and other race essentialism training in institutions and companies and long-term implications in, in reducing racial tensions within organizations. Speaker 1 00:33:37 Say that for me one more time. I'm sorry. My audio cut out for a moment. Speaker 0 00:33:41 What are the drivers and experience with critical race theory, DEI, uh, race, uh, centralism training in institutions and companies and what are the long-term implications in, uh, reducing racial tensions within organizations. So maybe, you know, more broadly, you know, within, uh, within a context of a, of a company, uh, embracing these kinds of trainings and, uh, what, what kind of effect are they having, whether what's your view. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:34:16 Um, well, that's a great question. Um, and, uh, something that I've, I've had to talk about in a bunch of different contexts, um, it's, won't surprise anyone. Who's been paying attention that a lot of employers and corporations have committed themselves to trying to make themselves more racially conscious to becoming anti-racists, to implementing these diversity equity and inclusion, um, sort of trainings and protocols in their organizations. Um, and I think most of these folks are doing it with, you know, very noble intentions. They just want to do the right thing. In some cases they're doing it because they feel that their choice. Um, but the outcome, um, of a lot of this training, um, is not obviously beneficial. Um, and in many instances seems to really like inculcate a lot of these pernicious incentives that we talked about a little while ago. Um, the fact that in certain contexts, there are particular benefits that accrue to someone who is, who either perceives themselves as a victim of themselves as a victim in a real meaningful sense, and communicates that to other people, or sees that as an opportunity to be kind of a cultural that they can use the budget and their bosses or other people that they don't like, um, at the workplace. Speaker 1 00:35:30 Um, you'll have workplaces that begin to segregate themselves along racial lines, imagining that this is, you know, the, to enlightenment. And I mean, it just even stated that way. I hope it becomes like very obvious, like painfully obvious that this is just, this can't be a sensible path forward. Um, it can't be sensible to generally regard say every black student that enrolls in a particular school as disadvantaged in much the same way. Can't be generally beneficial to an employer to regard every white quote unquote employee that they have working for them as someone who is harboring these kinds of subtextual racist instincts, that they, that they are inserting into conversations, you know, workplaces workplaces in the United States where we have, you know, this, this diversity of perspectives and views that we take everywhere with us are places where we have to find ways to collaborate with one another, despite the things that make us different. Speaker 1 00:36:30 And if your diversity and equity and inclusion training is about, isn't about recognizing the reality of those differences, a reality that that doesn't respect racial lines. It just does not let her people who are black are different from one another and much the same way that people who are white are different from one another shocking. Um, then it isn't preparing your workplace to be as productive as it could be. It isn't repairing your employers to be able to employees to be able to collaborate with one another, um, in a way that's going to be productive in the long run. Um, and it seems to me like a path to a pathway to inculcating a set of practices and values that are likely to make your organization far less productive, um, and to ensure almost that there will be all kinds of weird internal conflicts as well. Um, some of which are manifestation of people like yelling at one another and, uh, and other is, are going to be a manifestation of people, not willing to say anything because they're too afraid of who they might offend. Speaker 0 00:37:32 Hmm. Interesting. John Davis, another long time Atlas society's partner is asking us to take a step back and just define for us. Uh, we, you know, hear it talked about all the time, critical race theory, CRT, what, what is it? Speaker 1 00:37:47 Well, it's, it's interesting. Um, I'm, I'm in a place where, I mean, I hear us talking about it, a great deal specifically in the context of these, these debates about K through 12 education and public schools and activists who have in very, very real senses engaged in this kind of overreach where they're trying to, to control curriculums. And I think in certain instances genuinely engage in a kind of a process of indoctrination or at least hope to be able to indoctrinate students. They're committed to turning students into activists, um, and making their institutions fundamentally anti-racist. Um, and one of the unfortunate things that I think has happened in response to that is we have, I think for, you know, reasons of like expedience that are understandable, kind of taken a universe of different impulses that are all related in the sense that they like have at their heart a sense that race is kind of all important. Speaker 1 00:38:46 And that race explains a great deal about what's wrong with America. And you know, why particular kinds of problems are so persistent, um, thinking the universe of different things, diversity and equity and inclusion training, um, and, uh, critical race theory, which is a legal theory. That's borrowed from sort of academia and, um, anti-racism, which is kind of a newer, a new fangled, um, way of imagining, uh, our relationships to one another. And what specifically disparities mean? So we talked about systemic racism a little earlier. So if in fact you observe a disparity between whites and blacks in any context, um, then those disparities between whites and blacks to the event, to the disadvantage of blacks anyways, are generally going to be regarded as racist. That doesn't require any sort of intentionality on anyone's part that's racist. And if you are comfortable with that status quo, you are also racist. Speaker 1 00:39:50 You're complicit in it. You're you need to be anti-racist, which means that you need to be committing yourself to sort of deconstructing those disparities and ensuring that, that the outcomes are more even so suffice it to say all of those things are generally being referred to as critical race theory today. And all of those things, the, the legal notion of critical race theory, this, this ideology, um, or at least this premise that when we look at society, we're talking about these systems of power and that there is kind of this inter intersexual intersectional matrix that we all exist within. That has something to do with our race and our religion or gender, and perhaps other characteristics and disabilities that put us on some sort of hierarchy of oppression or hierarchy, hierarchy of oppression or power. Um, and so that notion of critical race theory, the notion of anti-racism and this diversity and equity inclusion thing are all kind of seeping their way into the schools in different contexts. Speaker 1 00:40:49 And people are collectively referring to this as critical race theory. Um, and I actually, again, think that's a little bit unfortunate because these really are kind of different different projects, even if they present in many of the same ways, and even if they annoy us and for the same sorts of reasons, because they're all projects that engage in a kind of racial essentialism, um, and that, that place race into center of, you know, the project of trying to educate kids and public school settings, or even in university settings. I hope that's a useful explanation, but I know that it's, it's a bit convoluted. Speaker 0 00:41:28 Well, it's complicated, it's complicated. Uh, first I want to say I'm seeing, um, a lot of great questions also seeing actually a lot of people who are on this webinar, who are supporters of the outlet society, not just consumers of the outlet society. So a big thank you to all of you out there, um, who make it possible through your tax deductible donations for us to provide forums like this. I really appreciate it. Um, Jeff daily, I think we might've hit your, your question on intersectionality. Let us know if you have a up to that. Um, also David Kelly, our founder is here and, uh, David, thank you. I th I was thinking of the soliloquy at the end of, of Anthem, but, um, but David says that the quote, uh, that Camille, uh, Camille was correct, that it was from the Fountainhead, uh, that, uh, when Gayle weinen says, uh, this is my pride that now thinking of the end, I do not cry, uh, like all the other men of my age, but what was the use and what was the meaning? Speaker 0 00:42:38 I was, uh, the use and the meaning I Gail wine in that I lived and that I active. So thank you, David. Okay. Um, had Dylan Montiero, uh, hi, Camille longtime follower and big fan of the fifth column. Is there one book or favorite one that impacted you the most in your early adulthood? So, you know, and that kind of feeds into my w one of the questions that I had had, uh, about your, uh, distinct kind of upbringing. You, your parents, your mother came from Jamaica, and, uh, and that, that kind of cultural background was, was something that also, maybe to set you apart from, uh, from kind of identifying with, uh, with the, the, the kind of racial identities that, that we use commonly here. So what, what book, when, when your, your daughter, who is, what about two or three now? Yeah. Three. Okay. When 10 years from now, what, what are you hoping that she'll do reading? Speaker 1 00:43:52 Well, I know, I know the book that first, like kind of shattered my perception of, uh, politics and philosophy, and it was, and government broadly, and it was a Basquiat's the law, which is very short and just kind of shocking. And I remember, I remember the opening lines, which I believe in the version, I had had an exclamation point, but always felt like they needed it where it says the law perverted and the police powers of the state perverted, along with it. I believe that's exactly the quote and there's just this exclamation point. And it felt like he was shouting at me. And the, the thinking about kind of the origins of our legal traditions and structures was, again, something that you kind of do in school, in a very rope sort of way. It's like memorization going on there. Um, but really doing like critical thinking about what this all means and how it works and whether or not it is quote unquote good, um, is entirely and Basquiat kind of challenges me to do that work. Speaker 1 00:44:57 And I remember reading shortly thereafter, Milton Friedman's book, capitalism and freedom. And between those two books, like a lot of the ideas that are still kind of central to my thinking, are there they're in those, in those books and Milton in particular? Um, I remember reading, I believe it was in the, in the introduction or the foreword to the book, there's this, uh, he talks about the, the, the Kennedy speech where he says, ask not what you're contributing for. You ask what you can do for your country. Um, and Milton saying that that neither one of those sentiments are consistent with the ideals of a free man and a free society. Um, and I think another thing that he says in that same book is that freedom is a rare and delicate plant. And he underscores this, this thing that I'm constantly trying to remind people of that most people throughout, most of history have not been free. Speaker 1 00:45:48 They haven't enjoyed that privilege. Um, so those two things, um, were really kind of vital for kind of setting me on fire and making me want to understand these things a bit more and doing a bit more and thinking about my own perspective on the good, um, and, uh, the right ways, the best ways to organize the society and to making me, I think what I hope people get is that I'm an advocate for something I'm an advocate for like human thriving and for breaking down kind of tribalist structures so that we can kind of expand on this project that I think is kind of the most fundamental and important project that our species has been engaged in, um, in its short time here on earth, which is recognizing that we're all part of the same tribe, uh, and that we can gain much, much more from cooperating with one another and leveraging our differences than we can by kind of balkanizing, um, things. And by imagining ourselves as kind of these distinct representatives of particular ancestral populations, which is it's just the inane, it doesn't make sense. Um, so I'm, I'm an advocate for that more than I am a critic of anything else, to the extent I become a critic of something else it's largely in most instances, because other people either feel uncomfortable saying it, or perhaps haven't thought about things long enough to be able to say them publicly. Um, so Speaker 0 00:47:19 Yeah, uh, Jeff Daley asks if you've had any dialogue with the powers that be from, uh, black lives matter or similar groups, I've seen it, you've had few, I don't think there are many people that want to come up and debate you, but Speaker 1 00:47:38 Yeah, uh, a few, um, and, and yeah, the, the problem these days is most people don't want to have conversations at all. They don't want to talk. Um, and, and quite frankly, I mean, the, these are the ascendant powers, um, in our culture. Um, it's not to say that most people agree with all of the sentiments that, you know, blacks are kind of fundamental to black lives matter, or that most Americans understand and are anti racist, but it is certainly the case that in our political establishment, um, and in the major sense-making institutions in this country, the people who are responsible for kind of being the keepers of the culture, um, that the perspectives there are pretty uniform now, and it is much harder to find people who have anything like the perspectives that I do, who are willing to share them in, in contexts like that and environments like that. Speaker 1 00:48:32 Um, and I think they are fortunately for, for us, um, at odds with the general impulses and the proclivities of like most Americans, I don't think most Americans have thought about these things nearly as carefully as they ought to, but most Americans have a sense that there's, there's something that the thing that brings us together is kind of those sentiments that are embodied. And like, King's, I have a dream speech that people should be judged by the content of their character. Um, it's the reason why that bit of the speech is the thing that everyone remembers, you know, it's as American as apple pie, like that is part of our cultural DNA. Um, and I think that's still very much true today and I suspect that there will be a bit of a backlash, and I think we're already seeing evidence of it too. A lot of the trends that are currently in both. Speaker 0 00:49:24 Yeah, no. So it's interesting. I remember being on MSNBC once and, and being told that I wasn't allowed to quote Martin Luther king because I'm sorry, which was weird. I'm sorry. Yeah, yeah, Speaker 1 00:49:38 No, that's, uh, that's obscene. I mean, you know, no one else has any more authority to quote him on account of their appearance than you do. Like, it's just, it's not a demerit and it's not an appoint in our favor. It's all of our tradition. My family is my, my biological father is also drunk. And my stepfather who raised me from the time I was two or three on, um, is not, he was born in this country, but I I've adopted Martin Luther king and those philosophical traditions as my own. And I, don't not Speaker 0 00:50:11 Allowed if you don't identify as black. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:50:14 I mean, it's just, it's ridiculous. It's preposterous. Speaker 0 00:50:18 Um, all right, well, we've got about 10 minutes. So if we have burning questions, folks, uh, I have a few of my own, um, I, uh, last weekend I was in park city at a reason event and, um, had the opportunity to attend a speech by your colleague on the fifth column. And I want to get to it's become such a phenomenon. So I'd like to get to a bit of a, how it got started and all of that, but, but out one of the things that <inaudible> has said in the past was, uh, I thought it was very striking. He talked about anti-racism as a profoundly religious movement, um, in everything, but terminology is, is that analysis, I mean, when you talk about the irrationality, is it something that resonates or is that also in itself a bit of an oversimplification? Speaker 1 00:51:16 Um, well, yeah, but I think it's a useful analogy. Um, it's a useful abstraction. It's a, it's a way to kind of engage with the ideas. I think there are plenty of people who consider themselves anti-racist who will bristle at that description. Um, but the notion that there aren't kind of sacred texts and, uh, priesthood and a Saint ha uh, kind of role of saints, um, who people appeal to and, or they're, they're kind of interested in the notion of certain kinds of sacraments, of original sin, even that is translated from father to son on and on and on for generations like bets. There's something religious about that. Um, and I think drawing attention to that is important and worthwhile. Um, and, um, I'm glad that John has done it, um, because I think it does help to, to kind of underscore the degree to which, um, particular ideas can really take this kind of fundamental role in our lives, whether or not we're willing to kind of scrutinize them carefully because they have ideas, have implications, they have consequences, um, and whether or not you're aware of those implications and consequences or the degree to which your particular ideas have bad implications or consequences, you may eventually find out so better to do some thinking about it early on. Speaker 0 00:52:44 Yeah. I thought it was really striking in retrospect, you know, we remember the kneeling, the prostrating, the washing of the feet, the, uh, you know, I am guilty. Uh, it, it just, that was just a really interesting lens to look at it through. And then also sociologically, you know, as we've become a more secular culture, you know, are we are do, is there a God shaped, vacuum, you know, CS Lewis where we're, we're looking for for something to, to fill the, uh, the role that philosophy used to play. I have some suggestions on that score, but, um, that religion used to fail. So, but I did, I did want to talk a bit about, uh, the fifth column. So, I mean, it's become such a phenomenon. You guys have, uh, recorded over 300, uh, episodes. Um, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it. How did it come together? How has it evolved, how has changed and what is making it so successful? Speaker 1 00:53:47 Um, I wish I had great answers to all of those questions are things I'm still trying to figure out. Um, the, the short version of how it came to be is I found out from, uh, a buddy, a guy named Dave Lee. Who's a former spouse of, um, a good friend Kennedy who suggested that Moynahan and Welch, Michael Moynihan, who is at vice news and Matt Welch, who is at reason, um, that they do a podcast together. And then he suggested, you know, you should have Camille join you. And it began that way. I mean, I liked those guys well enough already. We talked all the time. Anyhow. Um, the possibility of getting together on a, maybe weekly basis to talk for an hour into a microphone. And at the time it wasn't even about monetizing so much, just like this seems like fun. Um, and I wanted to learn more about out the podcasting space because I hadn't done anything in this space at all. Speaker 1 00:54:40 Um, and, uh, yeah, we got together. We did it. I think Catherine mango ward also at reason gave us, uh, a name that we thought sounded cool. Uh, so we embraced the fifth column, which, you know, you have the fifth column, the historical fifth column. Um, but you also have like newspapers which have columns. And I kind of liked the fact that it kind of worked in both directions and we're all of these, these people who have a role in the media ecosystem, um, but who have never really been terribly comfortable and a lot of different media spaces because of our particular politics, which are, I think competing flavors of libertarian, if, if I'm, if I'm honest about it. Uh, but the podcast itself really isn't a libertarian podcast. I think it has a libertarian bent and the audience tends to over-index for libertarians, but it's a media criticism podcast. Speaker 1 00:55:33 We talk about the news of the day, how the stories are being covered by different media outlets. Um, and we do our best to try and elevate discussions about those, um, things. Um, we do it, you know, with, uh, with a Shiv every once in awhile and with brass knuckles, um, because it's a little bit more fun. Um, but we also try our best to bring on people who may disagree with all three of us, people who, in some instances, we've had some sort of sharp criticism of in the past and to try and model like good constructive conversations, um, where we can find both points of agreement and disagreement. And I think at a time when that sort of thing is increasingly difficult to find, and people who are being kind of candid and honest, um, are difficult to find. And certainly in the wake of America is quote unquote racial reckoning, which I generally refer to as the racial retrogression. Um, it's, it's wonderful. I hope to have in a way, SIS of sanity, where Speaker 0 00:56:35 We're willing to talk honestly Speaker 1 00:56:37 About these things. So yeah, we try, we try, we like each other, that's genuine most of the time we like each other, um, which is, I think that's the secret sauce. Like the guys are generally pretty smart, smarter than me, and we try to stay in our lane. Um, but we also don't, don't take ourselves overly seriously. Yes. Speaker 0 00:56:57 Uh, well, and there's, you know, so many episodes, um, should people just dive in from the beginning or start latest or is there, you know, their greatest hits would be helpful? Well, Speaker 1 00:57:09 It is a, it is a news of the moment show. So it's useful. I think to start with the more recent episodes. I mean, I have favorites of mine. Um, I think certainly the ones that we recorded with, uh, John McWhorter and Glenn Lowry and Thomas Chatterton Williams and Coleman Hughes, I think we've done two of those, um, kind of ensemble casts, um, episodes in the past. And I think those are really great. Um, I did something with a guy named van Latham who was at TMZ, um, until a couple of years ago. And that was actually following that appearance I did on Mar and I just thought it was a great example of two people who disagree vehemently on lots and lots of important things, but who have like enormous respect for one another, like just talking and kind of sorting through some of their disagreements. Speaker 1 00:58:00 Um, and I thought those were great. Um, and then, you know, if you want to laugh, you can go find any of the episodes we've done with Ben Dreyfus, which are just incredible, insane, a little bit dangerous, um, but fun. And there's plenty of that stuff. I think our back catalog it again, it's news of the moment, but I also think that they, they stand up pretty well. Um, they're interesting conversations in there. So people tell me that they go back and listen to episode one and they, they still laugh and they still find something interesting in it, especially since, you know, we've been through so much since back then, and this is kind of pre-Trump um, is when we started the podcast. So come on over. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:58:40 Well, I think I got introduced to it from one of, one of our donors, Rainey, Stater, and, uh, and it was right, you know, at the time of, uh, of the riots and the protests and this and that. And, uh, and wow. You know, it was just like, you guys were letting it all hang out, you know, and it's like, they're really saying things like, are they allowed to do that? My mommy know about this. Um, so, uh, and then just to close it up, I, uh, want to talk a little bit about Freethink, which is a, and I love that name, your, your new media company. And I just realized, as we were talking before, the show that our honoree at, uh, at our fall gala on November 4th, uh, was, uh, the, the founders fund, Peter Teal's founder fund was an earlier investor in it. Speaker 0 00:59:34 And I can, I can see why, because it, uh, covers everything from, uh, exponential technologies, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, uh, psychology and health. I read an interesting article on it recently about, uh, bringing back the boarding house, which is interesting because there has been a lot of disruption in the kind of, uh, housing and urban planning space. So what are some of the hot topics, uh, hot areas of innovation that you are excited about, and is there kind of an overlap with, you know, your, your fifth column and your commentary on, on, on race, are there some new technologies or innovations that really offer kind of a positive, uh, reasons to hope for the future that might bring unexpected solutions to some of the problems we obsessed with? Speaker 1 01:00:26 Yeah. Well, I mean, I think the fact that we've exited the COVID pandemic, um, after, you know, barely a year that we actually had this breakthrough new, innovative technology with these RNA based vaccines, um, that was on deck and that we could deploy. And that seems prime to disrupt like a bunch of really hard problems that we were having difficulty trying to figure out for a while. There, there may be a malaria vaccine on the way, thanks to the same, the same, um, regime of, of, um, virus, um, sorry, vaccines. Um, so I think that's very exciting. There's so much stuff happening in the healthcare universe. I think there's so much stuff happening in the FinTech universe, the stuff that we've seen with Bitcoin, um, over the course of the last couple of months and cryptocurrencies, it's hard to know exactly what the final form of crypto will be. Speaker 1 01:01:19 Um, but it is undoubtedly the case that this has become institutionalized in a meaningful sense that there are, there is real money and support behind these projects and, um, a lot of possibilities for the ways in which that could begin to change people's lives. And, you know, the ethos at Freethink is very much, you know, we like to imagine that we had, we been around when the Wright brothers were flying at kitty Hawk, even though that initial flight was very, very short, didn't really seem like the sort of thing that could change the world, that there was some possibility there and that we would have seen that possibility. And while most people ignored it for years, decades, even, um, we would have been there on the day and we would have been excited and we would have been trying to imagine what the future looks like. And it's just, uh, an optimistic disposition. You know, you encounter a hard problem and you imagine, well, what can we do to fix this problem? Who's working on a solution. Um, and what do we need to do to make them succeed? We just want to inspire people to, to think about possibilities and to not think of reasons why not? Speaker 0 01:02:22 Well, I, I highly recommend it. Um, we embrace, uh, optimism and gratitude and, uh, you know, what you focus on, you tend to go towards. So to the extent that you focus on problems, uh, you know, you, you can kind of move in a negative direction. So I just found, uh, free Freethink, so refreshing. And I, I, uh, I'm really excited to dig in more and excited to learn that we are in the same state. Yes, guys, you always give me such a hard time. He moved from Brooklyn to the bay area. So maybe, you know, choice. Well, Tiburon Timarron Malibu where I live. I mean, these are exceptions to the rules. So anyway, thank you very much. I really, really appreciate it. Camille, it's been just a joy and I look forward to yeah. Seeing you doing, getting to know you better. Um, so thank you. And thanks to all of you who joined us today, especially thank you to, uh, the many, many supporters of the Atlas society who, uh, who, who came forward to ask great questions, but also who put their money where their mouth is and make it possible for us to do these kinds of things. So we really appreciate you all and we will see you next week. We have a interview with Sebastian younger, um, author of the perfect storm and this new book and freedom. So see you next week. Thanks everyone. Bye.

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