by Gary Alexander

July 9, 2024

I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done, and we might as well be dead,
But I’m just a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head.

–Rodgers & Hammerstein in “South Pacific” (1949)

As we go to press, I’m on my way to Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, where this year’s theme is “Brave New World” (more on that later). While there, I have the honor to serve on panels with some of the world’s greatest optimists, and some of my favorite authors. I’ve written about them here before. Next week, I’ll bring you some of their newest ideas from their talks. The first major optimist speaks in the opening session Wednesday, Matt Ridley, on “How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom.”

Matt, an author of several books, was a regular columnist in The Wall Street Journal and a former member of Britain’s House of Lords. He was also kind enough to cite my work in his book, The Rational Optimist (below), and in Reason Magazine, writing, “We are now, in writer Gary Alexander’s word, apocaholic. The past half century has brought us warnings of population explosions, global famines, plagues, water wars, oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, Y2K bugs, mad cow epidemics, killer bees, sex-change fish, cell-phone-induced brain-cancer epidemics, and climate catastrophes. So far, all of these specters have turned out to be exaggerated.”


Matt Ridley Book

On Thursday morning, Michael Shellenberger will speak on “The Changing Landscape of Energy” and then on two energy panels. On Thursday night, he will join me on a panel debating a new film which asks several “inconvenient” (to coin a word) questions about accepted climate change orthodoxy. Michael is one of Time Magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment,” but in his 2020 book, “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All,” he went back to original sources of many famous, oft-repeated doomsday claims and projections and found that the media manipulated the presentation of those data.

Taking the other side of the debate (of man causing climate change) is Michael Shermer, founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine. In preparing for this debate, I have also read Michael’s most recent book, “Conspiracy – Why the Rational Believe the Irrational” and his most optimistic historical overview, “The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice and Freedom” (above right).

In our Thursday night panel, I – as a “recovering Apocaholic” – will moderate a debate including Shellenberger, a former Green Book Award Winner who is now taking the other side, as founder and president of Environmental Progress, and Shermer, who once expressed doubts regarding mainstream views on global warming but now subscribes to its main tenets, so we have each changed over time.

There will be several other optimistic speakers on the first full day of Freedom Fest. On Thursday morning, the 2024 Leonard E. Read annual book award will be presented to Gail Pooley and Marian Toopy for Superabundance, about how our resources are growing in scope and usages, not shrinking.

Books 2

Then there will be a lunch serving “brain food,” with Shermer, Shellenberger and Steven Pinker, one of my favorite authors. He is a cognitive scientist who has also written two great books about the decline in wars, violence and other forms of untimely deaths in the last two centuries, contrary to what most of us seem to assume. Two of his most important books in this regard are “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” (2011) & “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.” (2018). It will certainly be “brain nutritious” to hear these three optimists talk over lunch.

Today’s “Brave New World” – Utopia or Dystopia?

“Oh wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! Oh brave new world that has such people in’t.”

–from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

The theme of this year’s Freedom Fest is “Brave New World,” and there will certainly be some dystopian and depressionary views along with the optimists, so it’s fair to ask what kind of world we can expect to see 90 years from now – the gap between when Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World (1932) and now.

To help answer that question, Jo Ann Skousen, founder and director of The Anthem Film Festival, has enlisted me to join her in an opening “Book Club” seminar session of Huxley’s clearly dystopian novel, in light of the talks and films that await attendees. I have not only read all the books above (and many others by a wide array of speakers) but I have also previewed all the films showing in her Anthem film Festival as senior judge, and so we will comment on some positive models of heroic freedom in various films, and some dangers of the would-be tyrants, now emerging in the EU, Xi’s China and some cabals at home.

Here are just a few of the heroes in the films we will be showing at this year’s Anthem Film Festival:

Pen Paper Books

Melony Armstrong fought restrictive regulations in the State of Mississippi for opening a braiding salon, against all odds, with the help of pro-bono lawyers, family and friends in a dramatic film “Freedom Hair.”

Paul Sutton, Professor of Criminal Justice, enlisted college students to inspire prisoners in maximum security to write truthfully. This turned their life around, resulting in early parole, in “From Pen to Paper.” 

Allen Graham, founded Community First Village in Austin, Texas, building micro-homes for the homeless without government aid in “Why Homelessness is Worse in Texas Than California.”

In Huxley’s novel, a “savage” memorized Shakespeare while the coddled Alphas in the cocoon of luxury knew only drugs, sex and trite phrases, so this brave world wasn’t brave at all, but a dead end of control, cowardice and isolation. In an ironic twist of fate, those who thought too independently were sentenced to frosty, remote Iceland, where they were free to think more clearly and interact with other like-minded free spirits – sort of like Freedom Fest.

All content above represents the opinion of Gary Alexander of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

Please see important disclosures below.

About The Author

Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has been Senior Writer at Navellier since 2009.  He edits Navellier’s weekly Marketmail and writes a weekly Growth Mail column, in which he uses market history to support the case for growth stocks.  For the previous 20 years before joining Navellier, he was Senior Executive Editor at InvestorPlace Media (formerly Phillips Publishing), where he worked with several leading investment analysts, including Louis Navellier (since 1997), helping launch Louis Navellier’s Blue Chip Growth and Global Growth newsletters.

Prior to that, Gary edited Wealth Magazine and Gold Newsletter and wrote various investment research reports for Jefferson Financial in New Orleans in the 1980s.  He began his financial newsletter career with KCI Communications in 1980, where he served as consulting editor for Personal Finance newsletter while serving as general manager of KCI’s Alexandria House book division.  Before that, he covered the economics beat for news magazines. All content of “Growth Mail” represents the opinion of Gary Alexander

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