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New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Latin American Audiences Learn about Ayn Rand’s Philosophic Case for Freedom

ARI intellectuals brought much-needed moral arguments for individual freedom to hundreds in Buenos Aires and Santiago.

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After more than two decades of socialist plunder, Latin America is surprisingly the center of a new pro-free-market movement. Thousands of young people in the region have begun to grapple with the long-unknown arguments for capitalism and individual freedom: How do free markets work? What is the proper role of government? How does one think about contentious issues such as abortion?

Libertarian and free-market circles have provided some answers. But notably missing has been a moral perspective on individual freedom that challenges not only the economic assumptions of socialism but also the widely entrenched idea (even among these circles) that the essence of a moral life consists of serving and sacrificing for others.

ARI and the Ayn Rand Center Latin America (ARCLA) took that context into account when they partnered to organize the fourth AynRandCon conference in Buenos Aires on April 6 and 7. The intended audience was young students who have been recently ignited to discover the ideas of freedom, and who are good candidates to join Ayn Rand University (ARU). True to Rand’s provocative ideas, ARI developed a program to encourage students to think more philosophically about freedom, presenting radical moral arguments that run against the strictures of conventional morality.

“For Ayn Rand, freedom is not the end but a means,” said Yaron Brook in the keynote talk of the conference. “The focus of her philosophy is not a political outcome but your life and how you make the most of it.” The rest of the talks pursued equally provocative topics. Agustina Vergara Cid spoke on the role of collectivism on both the political left and the political right, and how the ideal of individualism is the only true alternative. Ben Bayer followed with two presentations in which he showed that both capitalism and abortion rights flow from the same commitment to individual freedom. Tal Tsfany presented a talk on why a culture that values reason is fundamental to building a free, thriving society.

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The audience’s intellectual energy was quite impressive. People rushed to the lines after each talk to ask burning questions of the speakers. While there was an occasional shaking head in the audience, everyone paid intelligent attention to the ideas. The conference arena was filled with high-level conversations on philosophy and economics. Many of the students who crowded around the speakers were persuaded to further explore the ideas through the Ayn Rand University program.

President Javier Milei was invited for an interview at the conference, which our senior fellows have analyzed. Given his appearance, ARI’s speakers made efforts to draw a stark contrast between Ayn Rand’s philosophic understanding of individual rights and freedom and Milei’s approach to politics.

The speakers participated in a couple of workshops where students got a sample of the ARU learning experience. The day before the conference, at the University of the Center for Macroeconomic Studies of Argentina (UCEMA), Ricardo Pinto gave an introductory presentation on the Objectivist ethics, followed by Bayer who led students in an in-depth exploration of Rand’s essay “For the New Intellectual,” and Brook on why philosophic ideas matter for understanding current events.

After the conference, Bayer, Brook, and Vergara Cid flew to Santiago, Chile, for a two-day event co-organized by ARCLA and the Foundation for Progress (FPP). There, they discussed topics such as Rand’s arguments for individualism, liberty, and the importance of philosophy. They also held a panel titled “Javier Milei in Argentina and the Future of Latin America.”

AynRandCon 2024 is an example of ARI’s efforts in recent years to bring Rand’s ideas to Latin American audiences and recruit students for Ayn Rand University. In recent years, Rand’s name and ideas have gradually gained greater attention: many bookstores are stocked with new translations of her major works, she is a frequent subject of journalistic articles and reports, and she has even been quoted in the Argentinian congress. Moreover, each year more and more students from the region join ARU to study Objectivism firsthand — so much so that almost 10% of the students in the program come from a Latin American country.

Our efforts to reach young Latin American minds is paying off, and we will continue to reach out to this audience and bring them a true and unique perspective on individualism and freedom that no other philosophy can offer.


If you value the ideas presented here, please become an ARI Member today.

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Ricardo Pinto

Ricardo Pinto, BA in philosophy, is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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