This past Saturday I delivered a speech at the first ever conference of the recently established Ludwig von Mises Centre for Property and Freedom, UK, held at the Amba Hotel Charing Cross, London.
I spoke on the topic of “What can the UK Mises Centre learn from the US Mises Institute?”, in the hope that some of the strategic principles which have given that latter institution such success over its 35-year history might make an impression on the nascent MisesUK.
While my speech seemed to be well received, I must admit that I left the conference at the end of the day with sadly little expectation that MisesUK will develop along the lines which I suggested in my speech: namely as an organisation which, like the US Mises Institute, sticks to its core principles and delivers an optimistic, humorous, and forward-looking message of pure Austrian Economics and libertarianism, without being distracted by divisive side issues, or becoming a mere curmudgeons’ caucus which restricts itself to complaining about how terrible the state of the world is at present.
Sadly, many of the other speeches at the event seemed to suggest that the ideological tone of MisesUK will be strongly influenced by the culturally far-right and reactionary fringes of the libertarian movement. Indeed, one of the other speakers who delivered their talk later in the day than mine, and who ranks considerably higher in the organisation than I do, seemed to directly challenge my view of what MisesUK should aim to be. During their speech they went so far as to say “I know there’s at least one person in the audience who won’t agree with this…” while looking at me, before going into a miserable rant about how irrelevant Austro-libertarianism supposedly is in the present day, how naive it is to think that we could have any success by simply offering a pure message of economic truth and a political theory based on universally accepted moral principles, and how we should instead compromise and dilute our own beliefs in order to appeal to the sorts of people who are currently being attracted by the alt-right. Needless to say this sentiment, which ran directly contrary to my own hopes for MisesUK, caused a certain amount of disillusionment in me as I left the conference.
Nevertheless, I live in hope that my present doubts will be proved wrong by the future successes of the UK Mises Centre, and will feel privileged to be associated with it for as long as it follows the path set down 35 years ago by the great US Mises Institute.