February 11, 2018
St. Petersburg
Capitalism. Rational individualism. Reason
Well-known American writer and founder of the philosophy of objectivism Ayn Rand was born in 1905 in St. Petersburg, and since 2015 the Adam Smith Center for Market Economy holds annual conferences in her honor.

Ayn Rand was a major intellectual of the twentieth century. Her ethics of rational egoism, reason, and self-interest is integral to her advocacy of "libertarianism" – the idea that individuals should be free to pursue their own interests and that governments should be limited to protecting each individual's freedom to do so. She was an advocate of "laissez-faire" and believed that only free-market economic system can be named moral. Only capitalism allows free individuals to use their own money, time and other resources, freely interact and trade voluntarily with others and hence it brings not only personal but also social and economic development.
Philosophy of Сapitalism
The conference was opened by moderator – the head of Adam Smith Center for market economy Sergey Boiko and the representative of the Moscow branch of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation – Sasha Tamm. The main part of the conference was split into 3 sections.

In the first section «Philosophy of capitalism,» lectors put emphasis on the relationships between individual, entrepreneurship, and government. They mainly spoke about failures of government regulations of business and drew parallels between the Rand's plotlines and contemporary Russian realities.

The lecture by economist Pavel Usanov sparked audience interest by his comparison of current political and economic climate and events in Russia and the storyline of Atlas Shrugged – one of the most notable Rand's novels. Later there was a discussion about the similarities and differences between the strike of heroes from the novel (their emigration to the valley of entrepreneurs) and the modern strike of voters and the brain drain in Russia.

In the same section a well-known expert in the field of railway economics, Ph.D. Farid Khusainov delivered his speech to the impossibility of so-called «social justice». He showed that most of the state regulations built to support the poor in order to achieve the ideal of social justice constantly lead to the opposite results – when those who are already rich or powerful receive the help and protection from the government whereas the poor are left with nothing. His lecture was provided with curious examples of the transport industry and its relationship with the state. Besides, during the Q&A session, Farid was asked about the circumstances under which the monopoly position of the Russian railway will end so it would be able to benefit everyone.

Next came Vadim Novikov, an economist, a specialist in the field of antitrust law, an expert in the field of applied microeconomics. His lecture "Antimonopoly Anti-Utopia" was devoted to the issues of the formation of monopolies and the ethics and effectiveness of anti-monopoly legislation.
Metaphysics and Epistemology of Objectivism
The second section «Metaphysics and epistemology of objectivism» was mainly philosophical: the lectors and listeners discussed modern reality in the context of the Ayn Rand philosophy of Objectivism.

Sergei Sazonov, a philosopher from the University of Tartu, shared his vision of Rand's attitude to the limits of personal responsibility. After his speech, a discussion about the extent to which each person can control his destiny and whether he has the right to rule other people or society arose.

Then came Artem Ustalov, an expert in the Austrian economic school. He spoke about the philosophy and practice of selfishness in the writings of Max Stirner and Ayn Rand. During the discussion, the question of the connection between the views of Max Stirner's, Husserl's phenomenology theory and Rand's rationalism was touched upon. In this context blockchain technology as a system of distribution of digital information among independent individualists was mentioned as well.

Then came political scientist Sasha Tamm (Germany). He dedicated his speech to the question, why the ideas of Ayn Rand are urgent for Russian citizens and why are they important even for people who do not like her fiction and do not consider themselves objectivists?"
Ethics and Aesthetics
The final section was devoted to «Ethics and aesthetics». The public was slightly outraged by the lecture of philosopher Sergei Chukhleb «Violence: Liberal-Bolshevism as a case of civilizational reduction». His speech caused a sharp discussion with the audience. Some listeners were particularly disturbed by the speaker's arrogance noticeable when he described the mentality of the Russians. «Firstly, I believe that you should be ashamed of your rhetoric that the people [in Russia] are wrong-headed» – one can hear a remark. «I support the previous speaker, people need to be perceived as equals» – the next listener echoed him. There were not only well-known scientists at the conference. It was an opportunity for less known but no less educated Internet-activists to speak as well.

Anatoly Konditsev, the creator and editor in chief of the well-known social group in Vkontakte, dedicated his lecture to the philosophy of Objectivism. He tells the audience about the birth of Ayn Rand philosophical manifesto of individualism.

The last speaker at the conference was YouTube-blogger and a member of the federal committee of the Russian Libertarian Party – Mikhail Svetov, his speech was devoted to the advantages of libertarianism. After his lecture, there was a discussion about the compatibility of the principle of freedom and non-aggression with the process of lustration. The lectures aroused great interest among the public, people in the audience actively asked questions after each performance. The authors of the best questions received a book from the organizers.
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