Curiosity & American Capitalism

Jordan Peterson took the world by storm with his somber life lessons to YouTube disciples. He codified his appeal for order in his book, “12 Rules for Life.” F.H. Buckley – a Canadian like Peterson – has outlined a very different set of rules in response to what he sees as a shortage of curiosity in the modern age. Curiosity and Its Twelve Rules for Life is the latest book from the wide-ranging author, scholar, GMU law professor, and frequent guest on my show.

Buckley introduces his new “rules” less as a self-help book than an antidote to the somewhat dour outlook of Peterson’s book, which Buckley says was written for people living in cold, harsh northern latitudes (like Canada). He exhorts Americans to think differently – embracing more risk and uncertainty in pursuit of originality, dynamism, and a life well-lived. The first rule? Ditch rules (he says they deprive us of a certain kind of responsibility and moral freedom).

While my previous conversations with Buckley have dealt with concrete topics – from the administrative state, to social media censorship, to “American Secession” – this week we try something different. I will ask Buckley – a Canadian-born American citizen – how curiosity has set the United States apart from the rest of the world in times past. What do we lose when our curiosity fades? Can American capitalism survive if we don’t produce new crops of entrepreneurs with an insatiable curiosity and drive for risk and reward? Perhaps being curious results in less order and more chaos, but it seems to me to be an essential part of being free.


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