About Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter, wrote the historic Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan urged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!" Peter Robinson is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and hosts the interview program "Uncommon Knowledge." Peter is a co-founder of Ricochet.

Does God Exist? A Conversation with Tom Holland, Stephen Meyer, and Douglas Murray

 

Does God exist? Something—a being, a power—that’s supernatural? That is, an entity that we’re unable to perceive with our five senses but that’s still real? Ever since the Enlightenment, the knowing, urbane, sophisticated answer has been, “Of course not.” Now a historian, a scientist, and a journalist talk it over and reveal new threads in the debate around science and theism.

“Bibi: My Story,” Benjamin Netanyahu on His Life and Times

 

Benjamin Netanyahu is the past and soon to be again prime minister of Israel. In his new book, Bibi: My Story, Netanyahu describes how he went from an Israeli American high school student in Philadelphia to a member of the Israeli Defense Force, detouring along the way to study architecture and get a master’s degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1976. His studies were interrupted when his brother Yoni was killed in the raid on Entebbe, Uganda, which inspired Bibi to return to Israel and dedicate his life to protecting that state. This interview covers those events as well as his rise to the top of Israeli politics—multiple times.

Peter Thiel, Leader of the Rebel Alliance

 

With his many varied interests in technology, politics, and culture, Peter Thiel has often been described as a Renaissance man. So perhaps it was only fitting that we traveled to Florence, Italy—where the Renaissance originated and thrived for hundreds of years—to speak with him. In this wide-ranging interview, we cover several topics, including his support for candidates across the country who are running as outsiders, why technology has not fulfilled many of its early promises, and why California is still America’s incubator for ideas and growth.

Why the Border Matters

 

I’ve been re-reading Confessions of a Heretic, a collection of essays by Roger Scruton that was published in 2016, the year after his death. Scruton’s prose is both entirely accessible—he prefers plain language and straightforward sentences—and so rich that I find myself stopping again and again to savor this sentence or ponder that paragraph. Take the question of borders. I’d always thought of borders as purely utilitarian—the place where our law stops and theirs begins. Crude, but necessary. Scruton demonstrates instead that borders represent one of mankind’s highest achievements:

The national idea is not the enemy of Enlightenment but its necessary precondition. The country is defined by a territory, and by the history, culture, and law that have made that territory ours…. Take away borders, and people begin to identify themselves not by territory and law, but by tribe, race, or religion. In short, Enlightenment means borders.

The bureaucrats who run the European Union, the Biden administration—both seem to suppose that borders represent throwbacks, mere hindrances that need to be overcome, transcended, ignored, removed. They have it backward. The rule of law, a certain level of decency and civilization—all depend on borders. Rip down the borders, Scruton shows, and you rip down civilization.

The Antislavery Activist That Time Forgot: Historian Walter Stahr on Salmon P. Chase

 

Historical biographer Walter Stahr has given us definitive biographies of William H. Seward and Edwin Stanton, two of the ablest and most influential members of President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. Earlier this year, Stahr followed those books with Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln’s Vital Rival, the definitive biography of Salmon P. Chase, Treasury secretary under Lincoln and one of the country’s most important antislavery lawyers, one of the few who defended fugitive slaves against state and federal prosecutors. After his stint as a lawyer, Chase was elected to represent Ohio in the US Senate, where he was instrumental in helping to settle the slavery question in the United States. Chase also served as governor of Ohio and then as Treasury secretary, where he standardized the dozens of currencies then being issued by local banks and gave us a national currency and a system of national banks. Spend an hour learning about this man, who contributed greatly to the country but whom almost no one today remembers.

Mikhail Gorbachev, RIP

 

The first time I met Mikhail Gorbachev he ignored me for a couple of minutes, devoting himself instead to my wife. 

 This was in the early two thousands. Communism had collapsed so completely that even the last leader of the Soviet Union had become a capitalist, visiting the United States on a paid speaking tour. My wife and I met him backstage before one of these events. Chatting with Edita, Gorbachev asked where she was from, how she liked California, and if she had ever visited Russia. As they spoke, I realized he was good. Really good. He had the touch. Unlike Brezhnev, Andropov, Kosygin, and the other aging tyrants he had succeeded, Gorbachev proved human, even, heaven help me–he had lead a country officially pledged to the destruction of our own country, after all–likeable. He may have risen to power in a Communist system, but he’d have done just fine in a democracy, too. When at last Gorbachev turned from my wife to me, his translator explained that I had composed President Reagan’s Berlin Wall address. Gorbachev smiled. “Ah,” he said, “dramaturg!”

Glenn Loury, Ian Rowe, and Robert Woodson Debunk Myths about the Black Experience in America

 

If there were a Mount Rushmore of American Black intellectuals, the three guests on this show would certainly be on it: Glenn Loury is a professor of the social sciences in the Department of economics at Brown, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and the host of his wildly successful podcast, The Glenn Show. Ian Rowe is the cofounder of Vertex Partnership Academies and the author of the new book Agency: The Four Point Plan (F.R.E.E.) for ALL Children to Overcome the Victimhood Narrative and Discover Their Pathway to Power. Robert Woodson is the founder of the Woodson Center, an organization devoted to “empowering community-based leaders to promote solutions that reduce crime and violence, restore families, revitalize underserved communities, and assist in the creation of economic enterprise.” In this wide-ranging conversation, the three men debunk The 1619 Project, advocate for the restoration of the Black family and the Black church, describe their own very different upbringings and formative experiences, and discuss the many reasons why they are optimistic about the future of Black Americans, despite the narrative commonly expressed in the media.

Uncommon Knowledge: Harvey Mansfield Counts His Blessings

 

The political philosopher Harvey Mansfield first arrived at Harvard University in the fall of 1949. He has remained at that august institution of higher education and is still teaching at age 90. In this special edition of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, recorded in the Baker Library at Dartmouth College, Dr. Mansfield answers five questions about America today from his perspective of observing and writing about the country for more than half a century.

The Importance of Being Ethical, with Jordan Peterson

 

By any measure, Dr. Jordan Peterson is the most famous (now former—as is discussed in this interview) Canadian professor of clinical psychology in the world. He’s also a deep thinker and a best-selling author of multiple books, and has amassed a huge following through podcasts, YouTube videos, and public speaking. Today, Jordan Peterson is one of the most influential voices in the “anti-woke” movement and this powerful interview demonstrates why.

Bari Weiss On Post-Mainstream Media Life And Her Battles In The Culture Wars

 

Bari Weiss began her career as a mainstream media prodigy, landing coveted positions at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times in her early twenties. In 2020, she famously resigned from the Timeswhen conditions there became intolerable for her, famously writing in a public resignation letter that “Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.” Now Weiss is the publisher of Common Sense, her wildly popular Substack newsletter, and the host of the Honestly with Bari Weiss podcast. Her ambition is nothing short of becoming a 21st-century one-woman media company, and based on what she reveals in this interview, she is well on her way to achieving that goal.

5 More Questions For Stephen Kotkin: Ukraine Edition

 

Last month, Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson asked Princeton Professor and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Stephen Kotkin 5 questions, all in the foreign policy and history realm. Since then, the world has changed in ways that were unimaginable just 3 weeks ago. So we asked Professor Kotkin to come back for a second round of questions, this time all dedicated to one topic: the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And as usual, his answers are concise, incisive, and analytic. If you want to understand this crisis and some possible outcomes, don’t miss this conversation.

Remembering P.J. O’Rourke: A Conversation with Rob Long and Peter Robinson

 

When P. J. O’ Rourke passed away on February 15, 2022, America lost one of its greatest observers and chroniclers of culture and politics since Mark Twain. But O’Rourke wasn’t just reporting events from the sidelines. Through his work in National Lampoon and countless other magazine articles and books, he contributed original works as well. O’Rourke appeared on Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson three times over the years, including his final appearance in May 2020 with his lifelong friend, the writer Andrew Ferguson. In this special edition of Uncommon Knowledge, TV writer, humorist, and essayist Rob Long and Peter Robinson remember O’Rourke and discuss his work and the influence he had on their lives and careers.

Uncommon Knowledge: 5 Questions For Stephen Kotkin

 

Stephen Kotkin is a professor of history at Princeton and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of nine works of history, including the first two volumes of his planned three-volume history of Russian power and Joseph Stalin, Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928 and Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941. The premise of this show is simple: Peter Robinson poses five questions to Dr. Kotkin: what Xi Jinping, the president of China believes; what Vladimir Putin believes; whether nuclear weapons are a deterrent in the 21st century; the chances of another American renewal; and Kotkin’s rational basis for loving the United States. It’s a fascinating conversation that delves deep into one of the country’s brightest minds.