Property and Freedom
I have just returned from a speaking engagement at the most enjoyable conference I have ever attended—the eighth annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society, held in Bodrum, Turkey. The meeting was unusual in many ways, but what struck me as an American was the diversity. Among the 120 or so participants were people from Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Finland, Turkey, Australia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Britain, Hong Kong, Canada, and Greece—and these were just the people I happened to meet. There was an American who lives in the Ukraine and another who lives in Estonia. A professor at Nazarbayef University in Kazakhstan brought his pleasant blonde wife. There was a member of the Lithuanian parliament, and a brother and sister from the family of one of the Viceroys of India.
Equally remarkable was the setting: a quietly luxurious hotel in the resort town of Bodrum, which is known as the Saint Tropez of Turkey. Meals, service, and evening entertainment were superb.
The founder and guiding spirit of the Property and Freedom Society is the German philosopher and economist, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, who taught for many years at the University of Las Vegas and now lives in Istanbul. He is a prominent spokesman for the Austrian School of economics, and his best known book is Democracy—The God That Failed, which was reviewed in American Renaissance.
As one would expect, many lectures reflected a world view shaped by a study of Freidrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Professor Hoppe himself. There were talks from a libertarian perspective on labor law, entrepreneurship, limited liability corporations, public health, Milton Friedman, bitcoins, and even a very clever lecture entitled “What Literature Can Teach Economics.” But the program also reflected Prof. Hoppe’s wide-ranging and unconventional interests. Richard Lynn was asked to answer the question, “Why Are Jews so Smart?” and I gave “A Brief History of US Race Relations.” The British author and lecturer Sean Gabb spoke on “Understanding England and the English,” and the Swiss economist and think tank executive Robert Nef explained Switzerland and the Swiss. Prof. Hoppe himself took on the ambitious subject of “The Nature of Man, Truth, and Justice.”
Some of the talks were technical, but overload was impossible: no speaker took the podium before 10:00 a.m., no one spoke for more than 30 minutes, and there was a coffee break after every talk.
Those of us with an interest in the national question usually find libertarians open to dissenting views. They are used to thinking logically and do not mind if their principles set them well apart from the herd. Some doctrinaire libertarians believe national borders are incompatible with freedom, but the Property and Freedom Society does not attract many of these. This was Professor Lynn’s third PFS lecture, and Peter Brimelow and Richard Spencer have spoken to the society, so I was hardly a jarring presence. My talk attracted some opposition but much support; a surprising number of participants knew all about American Renaissance.
And it was the participants who made this conference so agreeable. It was easy to strike up new acquaintances, and each was a reward. Prof. Hoppe has an unwritten rule—no bores or dimwits—so any subject that came up over a meal or drink was sure to start a good conversation.
On the final day, there were no lectures. Instead, we walked down to the port of Bodrum, past the ancient stone walls of the crusader castle, and boarded several schooners. We motored out to an uninhabited island, dropped anchor in a cove, and swam in the Aegean. We visited friends in other boats and swam to shore, where the lucky ones caught sight of wild pigs. We had lunch on board, chatted, and sun-bathed, and imagined what it would be like to live on one of these handsome ships.
Never have I been to a conference that was both a feast for the mind and a luxury vacation. “To describe it is to insult it,” concluded one exuberant Englishman, and he may be right.
PFS meetings are held annually in September, and information on the next one will be available in due course. I can imagine only a hater of libertarianism not having a wonderful time.
[Editor’s Note: Video of Mr. Taylor’s presentation is available here.]