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Remarks of Nicholas Provenzo at the ‘Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology’ Press Conference

(Washington, DC) The following are remarks by Nicholas Provenzo, Chairman of the Moral Defense of Capitalism explaining the mission of “Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology.”

Ladies and Gentlemen: Good morning.

Welcome to the press conference of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism and the Ayn Rand Institute. We’ve called this press conference to kick off our nationwide “Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology” and communicate our continued opposition to the goals of the environmentalists. Currently this campaign includes a demonstration on the grounds of the Washington Monument this Sunday, debates and information sessions to be held on 43 college campuses around the globe, from UCLA to the University of Toronto to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and a Internet petition calling on Congress to open the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. 

All these activities are focused on bringing attention to the negative effects of environmentalism and the threat environmentalism represents to human life. By bringing all the facts to the table, our goal is to create a nationwide debate over the proper relationship between man and his environment. 

As evidenced by the name of the organization I represent, The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism is dedicated to defending laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral social system. Environmentalism was one of the first issues we decided to tackle when we formed the Center for the simple reason that the questions surrounding environmentalism are central to the questions that often surround capitalism.

Please allow me to explain. Many people today see the practical value of capitalism—the fact that capitalism makes possible an ever-expanding production of wealth. But just as many people today see this abundance as a threat to the very planet we live on. 

We at the Center disagree. We say the Earth is man’s garden, and we see man’s mind as fully competent to meet the challenges of living in this garden, whatever these challenges may be. To us, the ultimate resource is not oil or coal or even the energy of the atom: We say the ultimate resource is a free, unfettered human mind. And because of this reverence we have for the individual human mind, we defend the individual’s right to act according to his own judgment while in pursuit of his own happiness, without being forced to sacrifice his life, liberty, and property to the needs of others—or other species.

Environmentalism, on the other hand, argues for something quite different: it says that man is impotent and even unworthy to meet the challenges of his existence, and it accordingly recognizes no rights of the individual. Instead, environmentalism views man as a plague who properly should sacrifice his well being to wilderness.

Now I can just imagine the folks at home saying to themselves, “Sure, Provenzo is probably talking about the environmental extremists, and no one takes them seriously. But what about the people fighting for clear air and clean water? A Los Angeles without chunky particulates in the air? Surely he doesn’t think they’re bad too?

Well, I do think the moderates are just as bad. At least the radical environmentalist groups are exact about their position. For example, the group "Earth First" doesn’t mince where it stands: if the earth must come first, human beings must come last. There can be little debate that these folks are actively working to return man back to the Stone Age.

But the goals of the so-called moderates are less clear. They say they recognize the benefits of industry and technology, but just not in their backyard. They say they embrace science, but only when it suits their terms. (Notice, for example, how environmentalist moderates display an unshakeable faith in a 100 year-in-advance weather report that supposedly proves global warming, while simultaneously rejecting that man has the ability to build a safe nuclear reactor.) 

The environmentalist radicals aim for mankind’s jugular and for the most part are deflected. The so-called environmentalist moderates aim to drain man’s body one pinprick at a time and the result is rolling blackouts. 

No. There is no evading the benefits if industry and technology—not if the lives of human beings are the standard by which we judge. From abundant and safe food, to refrigeration that allows us to preserve that food, to the power of the Internet that makes it easier for us to communicate, to the TV cameras and satellites that allow the viewer at home see this discussion as if they were here, science and technology have made people's lives vastly better, not worse. Yet if one were to listen to the environmentalists, either radical or moderate, one would think the sky is falling.

Groups like the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism and the Ayn Rand Institute say no more. We say enough is enough, and that’s why we have launched this campaign. We’re working on a grassroots level to get the facts out and change people’s minds.  

Two years back, we asked ourselves what would happen if businessmen, intellectuals, and concerned citizens joined together to offer a moral defense of their very lives. What would happen if, instead of appeasing the environmentalists, we proudly proclaimed that human beings have a right to live on this earth, and in doing so, they are morally virtuous? Might we change the course of history?

Track me down in twenty years to ask me how well we achieved our goal of changing history. But for now, I can safely report that one of our first grassroots endeavors; the Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology has been a success we are proud of. 

But as important as this kind of knock-em, sock-em grassroots activism is, the real reason for the Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology is to broadcast the reasoned, intellectual arguments in defense of man’s rights. 

To help us today with that intellectual examination, I’d like to introduce Dr. Andrew Bernstein, a Senior Fellow with our partner organization in this campaign, the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Bernstein is an adjunct professor of philosophy at Pace University and at the State University of New York at Purchase and is an expert in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. He is the author of three Ayn Rand titles for CliffsNotes: Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem, and Penguin’s “Teacher’s Guide to The Fountainhead.” Dr. Bernstein is a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Ayn Rand Institute and has lectured at many universities, including Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago.