The Property And Freedom Society—Reflections After Five Years

June 09, 2010


Peter
Brimelow
writes:
The economist

Hans-Herman Hoppe
,[Email
him
] author of Democracy: The God that Failed,

holds annual meetings of his
Property
and Freedom Society



 in the 

stunningly beautiful town of Bodrum in south west
Turkey.
 In
his June 3 opening address this year, he reflected on
the difficulties faced by radical intellectual movements
and specifically on the tragic collapse of the
paleoconservative/ libertarian movement in the
mid-1990s. VDARE.COM readers are certainly not all
libertarians, and there will be disagreement with
aspects of Hans` account, but it casts a searing light
on why the Beltway Right has proved


utterly incapable

of handling the immigration issue.


Hoppe himself is one of the
select group of libertarians who have criticized
immigration, both in his own writings and by arranging
for a special issue of the

Journal of Libertarian Studies, the summer 1998 issue [Volume
13, Number 2
]
guest edited by


Ralph Raico
, which was devoted to the subject. It`s a
seminal volume of essays, revealing for example that the
dean of American libertarian philosophers,


John Hospers,
who

actually received
one electoral college vote


when he ran for President as
the Libertarian Party candidate in 1972, rejected open
borders and the notion that if you support


free trade, you have to support free immigration.

[
A
Libertarian Argument Against Opening Borders

(
PDF)]


For my own 2008 address to
the Property and Freedom Society on libertarianism and
immigration, click


here
;
for


Steve Sailer
`s
reflections on the 2009 meeting, click


here
.


Hoppe is clearly breaking out
of the libertarian mold in a very interesting
way—among other speakers this year was Richard Lynn,
discussing reactions to his book
IQ and The Wealth of Nations.

I urge VDARE.COM readers to come to the next
Property and Freedom Society meeting in 2011!



By

Hans-Herman Hoppe


When I first envisioned the idea of this Society, more
than 10 years ago and then still a society without a
name, I had direct experience with only two other
Societies from which to learn.


My first experience was with the
Mont Pelerin
Society
which

Friedrich Hayek
had founded in 1947.


During the 1990s, I was three times invited as a speaker
to Mont Pelerin Society meetings in Cannes,

Cape Town
, and Barcelona. Each time, with papers
attacking

democracy and egalitarianism
, defending monarchies
vs. democracies, eviscerating the classical-liberal idea
of a minimal-state as self-contradictory, and
propagating a stateless, anarcho-capitalist natural
order, my appearance was considered somewhat scandalous:
too irreverent, too confrontational, and too
sensational.


Whatever the function of the Mont Pelerin Society may
have been in the immediate aftermath of WW II, at the
time of my encounter with it, I did not find it
particularly to my liking.


To be sure, I met many bright and interesting people.
But essentially, Mont Pelerin Society meetings were
junkets for

"free-market"
and

"limited-government"
think-tank and foundation
staffers, their various professorial affiliates and
protégées, and the principal donor-financiers of it all,
mostly from the U.S., and more specifically from
Washington D.C. Characteristically,

Ed Feulner
, long-time President of the

Heritage Foundation
, the major GOP think-tank and
intellectual shill to the welfare-warfare state politics
of every Republican government administration, from
Reagan to Bush, Junior, is a former Mont Pelerin Society
president and, more significantly, has been its
long-time treasurer.


There had been skepticism concerning the Mont Pelerin
Society from the beginning. Ludwig von Mises, Hayek`s
teacher and friend, had expressed severe doubt
concerning his plan simply in view of Hayek`s initial
invitees: how could a society filled with certified
state-interventionists promote the goal of a free and
prosperous commonwealth?


Despite his initial reservations, however, Mises became
a founding member of the Mont Pelerin Society. Yet his
prediction turned out correct. Famously, at an early
Mont Pelerin Society meeting, Mises would walk out
denouncing speakers and panelists as a bunch of
socialists.


Essentially, this was also my first impression when I
came in contact with the Mont Pelerin Society and this
impression has been confirmed since. The Mont Pelerin
Society is a society in which every right-wing social
democrat can feel at home. True, occasionally a few
strange birds are invited to speak, but the meetings are
dominated and the range of acceptable discourse is
delineated by certified state-interventionists: by the
heads of government-funded or connected foundations and
think-tanks, by central bank payrollees, paper-money
enthusiasts, and assorted international

educrats
and researchocrats in and out of
government. No discussion in the hallowed halls of the
Mont Pelerin Society of U.S. imperialism or the Bush war
crimes, for instance, or of the financial crimes
committed by the

Federal Reserve Bank
—and no discussion of any
sensitive race issue, of course.


Not all of this can be blamed on Hayek, needless to say.
He had increasingly lost control of the Mont Pelerin
Society already long before his death in 1992.


But then: Hayek
did
have much to do with what the Mont Pelerin
Society had become. For, as Mises could have known
already then, and as would become apparent at last in
1960, with the publication of Hayek`s
Constitution of
Liberty
, Hayek himself was a proven interventionist.
In the third part of this famous book, Hayek had laid
out a plan for a
"free"
society so riddled with interventionist
designs that every moderate social-democrat—of the

Scandinavian
-German variety—could easily subscribe.
When, at the occasion of Hayek`s 80th
birthday in 1979, the Social Democratic then-Chancellor
of West Germany, Helmut Schmidt, sent Hayek a

congratulatory
note proclaiming


"we are all Hayekians now",

this was not an empty phrase. It was true, and Schmidt
meant it.


What I came to realize, then, was this: The deplorable
development—as judged from a classic-liberal vantage
point—of the Mont Pelerin Society was not an accident.
Rather, it was the necessary consequence of a
fundamental theoretical flaw committed not only by Hayek
but, ultimately, also by Mises, with his idea of a
minimal state.


This flaw did not merely afflict the Mont Pelerin
Society. It afflicted the entire

"limited-government"
think-tank industry that had
sprung up as its offspring since the 1960s throughout
the Western, U.S. dominated world, and for which the
Mont Pelerin Society had assumed the function of an
"International".


The goal of
"limited"
—or
"constitutional"
—government, which Friedrich Hayek,
Milton Friedman, James Buchanan and other Mont Pelerin
Society grandees had tried to promote and that every
"free-market" think-tank today proclaims as its goal, is an
impossible
goal, much as it is an impossible goal to try squaring
the circle. You cannot first establish a territorial
monopoly of law and order and then expect that this
monopolist will not make use of this awesome privilege
of legislating in its own favor. Likewise: You cannot
establish a territorial monopoly of paper money
production and expect the monopolist not to use its
power of printing up ever more money.


Limiting the power of the state, once it has been
granted a territorial monopoly of legislation, is
impossible, a self-contradictory goal. To believe that
it is possible to limit government power—other than by
subjecting it to competition, i.e., by not allowing
monopoly privileges of any kind to arise in the first
place—is to assume that the nature of Man changes as the
result of the establishment of government (very much
like the miraculous transformation of Man that
socialists believe to happen with the onset of
socialism).


That is the whole thing: limited government, is an
illusory goal. To believe it to be possible is to
believe in miracles.


The strategy of Hayek and of the Mont Pelerin Society,
then, had to fail. Instead of helping to reform—liberalize—the (Western)
State, as they intended (or pretended?) to do, the Mont
Pelerin Society and the international

"limited-government"
think-tank industry would
become an integral
part of a continuously expanding welfare-warfare state system.


Indicators for this verdict abound: The typical location
of the think tanks is in or near the capital city, most
prominently Washington, DC., because their principal
addressee is the central government. They react to
measures and announcements of government, and they
suggest and make proposals to government. Most contacts
of think-tankers outside their own institution are with
politicians, government bureaucrats, lobbyists, and
assorted staffers and assistants. Along with connected
journalists, these are also the regular attendees of
their conferences, briefings, receptions and cocktail
parties. There is a steady exchange of personnel between
think tanks and governments. And the leaders of the
limited government industry are frequently themselves
prominent members of the
power
elite and the ruling class.


Most indicative of all: For decades, the limited
government movement has been a growth industry. Its
annual expenditures currently run in the hundreds of
millions of dollars, and billions of dollars likely have
been spent in total. All the while,
government
expenditures never and nowhere fell,
not even once,
but instead always and uninterruptedly increased to ever
more dizzying heights.


And yet, this glaring failure of the industry to deliver
the promised good of limited government is not punished
but, perversely, rewarded with still more ample funds.
The more the think tanks fail, the more money they get.


The State and the free market think tank industry thus
live in perfect harmony with each other. They grow
together, in tandem.


For limited government advocates such as Hayek and the
entire free market think tank industry, this is an
embarrassment. They must try to explain it away somehow,
as accidental or coincidental. And they typically do so,
simply enough, by arguing that without their continued
funding and operations matters would be even worse.


Thus excused, then, the industry continues on as before,
undisturbed by any fact or event past or future.


But the embarrassing facts are
not accidental
or coincidental and
could have
been systematically predicted—if only one had better
understood the nature of the state, and did not believe
in miracles.


As a territorial monopolist of legislation and the
money-printing press, the State has a natural tendency
to grow: to use its
"fiat" laws
and "fiat"
money to gain increasing control of society and social
institutions. With
"fiat laws",
the State has the unique power of threatening and
punishing or incentivizing and rewarding whatever it
pleases. And with its

"fiat
money",

it can buy-up support, bribe, and corrupt more easily
than anyone else.


Certainly, an extraordinary institution such as this
will have the means at its disposal, legal and
financial, to deal with the challenge posed by a limited
government industry. Historically, the State has
successfully dealt with far more formidable
opponents—like

organized religion
, for instance!


Unlike the Church or churches, however, the limited
government industry is conveniently located and
concentrated at or near the center of State power, and
the industry`s entire
raison d`etre
is to talk and have access to the State. That is what
its donor-financiers typically expect.


Yet so much the easier, then, was it for the State to
target and effectively control this industry. The State
only had to set up its own bureaucracy in charge of
free-market-relations and lure the limited-government
NGOs with conferences, invitations, sponsorships,
grants, money and employment prospects. Without having
to resort to threats, these measures alone were
sufficient to ensure compliance on the part of the
free-market think-tank industry and its associated
intellectuals. The market demand for intellectual
services is low and fickle and hence intellectuals can
be bought up cheaply!


Moreover, through its cooperation with the free market
industry, the State could enhance its own legitimacy and
intellectual respectability as an
"economically enlightened", institution—and thus open up still
further room for State growth.


Essentially, as with all so-called

NGOs
[non-government organizations], the State
managed to transform the limited government industry
into just another vehicle for its own aggrandizement.


What I learned from my experience with the Mont Pelerin
Society, then, was that an entirely different strategy
had to be chosen if one wanted to limit the power of the
state. For socialists or social-democrats, it is
perfectly rational to talk and seek access to the State
and to try "marching through its
institutions
"
, because the Left wants to
increase the power of the State. That is, the Left wants
what the State is disposed to do anyway, by virtue of
its nature as a territorial monopolist of law and order.


But the same strategy is inefficient or even
counterproductive if one wants to roll the power of the
State back—regardless
of whether one wants to roll it back completely and
establish a stateless natural order or roll it back only
"sharply" or
"drastically"
to some
"glorious"
or
"golden"
status
quo ante.


In any case, this goal can only be reached if, instead
of talking and seeking access to the State, the State is
openly ignored, avoided and disavowed; and its agents
and propagandists are explicitly excluded from one`s
proceedings. To talk to the State and include its agents
and propagandists is to lend legitimacy and strength to
it. To ostentatiously ignore, avoid and disavow it and
to exclude its agents and propagandists as undesirable
is to withdraw consent from the State and to weaken its
legitimacy.


In sharp contrast to the Mont Pelerin Society and its
multiple offspring, which wanted to reform and
liberalize the welfare-warfare state system from
within—pursuing a
"system-immanent"
strategy of change, as Marxists
would say—and which failed precisely for this reason and
was instead co-opted by the State as part of the
political establishment, my envisioned society, the
Property and Freedom Society was to pursue a

"system-transcending"
strategy.


That is, it would try to reform, and ultimately
revolutionize, the ever more invasive welfare-warfare
State system from the outside, through the creation of
an anti-statist
counterculture
that could attract a steadily growing
number of defectors—of intellectuals, educated laymen
and even the much-cited


"man on the street"
—away from the dominant State
culture and institutions. The Property And Freedom
Society was to be the international spearhead, the
avant-garde,
of this intellectual counterculture.


Central to this counterculture was this insight into the
perversity of the institution of a State: A territorial
monopolist of law and order that can make and change
laws in its own favor does not and cannot, without
assuming miracles, protect the life and property of its
subjects (clients); but is and always will be a
permanent danger to them—the sure road to

serfdom
and

tyranny
.


Based on this insight, then, the Property And Freedom
Society was to have a twofold goal.


On the one hand, positively, it was to explain and
elucidate the legal, economic, cognitive and cultural
requirements and features of a free, state-less natural
order.


On the other hand, negatively, it was to unmask the
State and showcase it for what it really is: an
institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and
thieves, surrounded by willing executioners,
propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns,
charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that
dirties and taints everything it touches.


For purposes of full disclosure I must add this: At the
urging of my friend

Jesus Huerta de Soto,
who had been inducted at a
very young age into the Mont Pelerin Society by Hayek
personally, I reluctantly applied for membership
sometime in the mid-1990s. Besides Huerta de Soto the
late

Arthur Seldon,
who was then Honorary President of
the Mont Pelerin Society, had endorsed my membership.
Nonetheless, I was turned down—and, as I must admit,
deservedly so, because I simply did not fit into such a
society.


From reliable sources I have been told that it was, in
particular,

Leonard Liggio
, a former friend of
Murray
Rothbard
`s, who must have realized this and most
vigorously opposed my membership; seconded, from the
German contingent of Mont Pelerin Society movers and
shakers, by Christian Watrin. Both Liggio and Watrin
would later become Mont Pelerin Society presidents.
 


My second experience with intellectual societies was
with the
John Randolph Club
[JRC], which had been founded in
1989 by libertarian Murray Rothbard and conservative
Thomas Fleming.


From the outset, this society was far more to my liking.
For a while, I played a leading role in the John
Randolph Club. But I also played a prominent part in its
breakup that occurred shortly after Rothbard`s death in
1995, and that essentially resulted in the exit of the
Rothbardian wing of the society.


Nonetheless, I look back to those early John Randolph
Club years with fond memories. So it is no surprise that
quite a few of my old John Randolph Club comrades have
also appeared here in Bodrum, at Property And Freedom
Society meetings:

Peter Brimelow
, Tom DiLorenzo,
Paul
Gottfried
,

Walter Block
, Justin Raimondo, Yuri Maltsev,

David Gordon.
In addition, I should mention my
friend Joe Sobran,
who had wanted to appear at our inaugural meeting but
couldn`t attend because of ill health.


In contrast to the
"international"
Mont Pelerin Society, the John Randolph Club was an
"American" Society. This did not mean that the JRC was more
provincial, however. To the contrary. Not only had the
JRC numerous
"foreign"
members, but also, whereas the Mont
Pelerin Society was dominated by professional
economists, the John Randolph Club represented a much
broader, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary
spectrum of intellectual interests and endeavors.


On the average, foreign language proficiency among John
Randolph Club-ers ranked well above that encountered in
Mont Pelerin Society circles. In its habits and ways,
the Mont Pelerin Society was multi-cultural, egalitarian
and non-discriminating, while it was highly restrictive
and intolerant regarding the range of permissible
subjects and intellectual taboos. In sharp contrast, the
JRC was a decidedly bourgeois, anti-egalitarian and
discriminating society, but at the same time a society
far more open and tolerant intellectually, without any
taboo-subjects.


In addition, whereas Mont Pelerin Society meetings were
large and impersonal—they could exceed 500
participants—John Randolph Club meetings had rarely more
than 150 attendees and were small and intimate. 


I liked all of these aspects of the John Randolph Club.
(I didn`t much care for the venues of its meetings:
typically some business hotel in the outskirts of a
major city. In this regard, Mont Pelerin Society
meetings had clearly more to offer—although for a stiff
price.)


But, as I indicated, not all was well with the John
Randolph Club, and my encounter with it also taught me a
few lessons on what not to imitate.


The breakup of the John Randolph Club shortly after
Rothbard`s death had partly personal reasons.
Tom
Fleming
, the surviving principal of the Club, is, to
put it diplomatically, a difficult man, as everyone who
has dealt with him can testify. In addition, there were
organizational quarrels. The meetings of the John
Randolph Club were organized annually alternating by the
Center for Libertarian Studies, which represented Murray
Rothbard and his men, and by the Rockford Institute,
which represented Thomas Fleming and his. This
arrangement had perhaps unavoidably led to various
charges of free-loading. Ultimately, however, the
breakup had more fundamental reasons.


The John Randolph Club was a coalition of two distinct
groups of intellectuals. On the one hand was a group of
anarcho-capitalist Austro-libertarians, led by Rothbard,
mostly of economists but also philosophers, lawyers,
historians and sociologists (mostly of a more
analytical-theoretical bend of mind). I was a member of
this group. On the other hand was a group of writers
associated with the conservative monthly

Chronicles:
A Magazine of American Culture
and its editor,
Tom Fleming. Paul Gottfried was a member of that group.
The conservative group did not have any economist of
note and generally displayed a more empirical bend of
mind. Apart from historians and sociologists, it
included in particular also men of letters: of
philologists, literary writers, and cultural critics.


On the libertarian side, the cooperation with
conservatives was motivated by the insight that while
libertarianism may be logically compatible with many
cultures,

sociologically it requires a conservative, bourgeois
core culture
. The decision to form an intellectual
alliance with conservatives then involved for the
libertarians a double break with
"Establishment
Libertarianism"
as represented, for instance, by the
Washington DC "free market" CATO Institute.


This Establishment Libertarianism was not only
theoretically in error, with its commitment to the
impossible goal of limited government (and centralized
government at that): it was also sociologically flawed,
with its anti-bourgeois—indeed, adolescent—so-called
"cosmopolitan"
cultural message: of multiculturalism and
egalitarianism, of
"respect no authority", of "live-and-let-live", of hedonism and libertinism.


The anti-establishment Austro-libertarians sought to
learn more from the conservative side about the cultural
requirements of a free and prosperous commonwealth. And
by and large they did and learned their lesson. At
least, I think that I did.


For the conservative side of the alliance, the
cooperation with the Austrian anarcho-capitalists
signified a complete break with the so-called
neoconservative movement that had come to dominate
organized conservatism in the US and which was
represented, for instance, by such Washington DC think
tanks as the

American Enterprise Institute
and the Heritage
Foundation. The paleo-conservatives, as they came to be
known, opposed the neo-conservative goal of a highly and
increasingly centralized,
"economically
efficient"
welfare-warfare State as incompatible
with the traditional conservative core values of private
property, of family and family households, and of local
communities and their protection. There were some points
of contention between the paleo-cons and the
libertarians: on the issues of abortion and immigration
and on the definition and necessity of government. But
these differences could be accommodated in agreeing that
their resolution must not be attempted on the level of
the central state or even some supra-national
institution such as the UN, but always on the smallest
level of social organization: on the level of families
and of local communities.


 For the
paleo-cons,

secession from a central State was not a taboo,
and
for the Austro-libertarians secession had the status of
a natural human right (while establishment libertarians
typically treat it as a taboo subject); hence,
cooperation was possible. Moreover, the cooperation with
the Austro-libertarians was to afford the conservatives
the opportunity of learning sound (Austrian school)
economics, which was an acknowledged gap and weakness in
their intellectual armor, especially vis-à-vis their
neo-conservative opponents. However, with some notable
exceptions the conservative group failed to live up to
these expectations.



This
,
then, was the ultimate reason for the breakup of the
libertarian-conservative alliance accomplished with the
John Randolph Club: that while the libertarians were
willing to learn their cultural lesson the conservatives
did not want to learn their economics.


This verdict, and the consequent lesson, was not
immediately clear, of course. It was driven home only in
the course of the events. In the case of the John
Randolph Club, the event had a name. It was Patrick
Buchanan, TV personality, commentator, syndicated
columnist, best-selling book author, including serious
works on revisionist history, a very charismatic man,
witty and with great personal charm, but also a man with
a deep and lasting involvement in Republican Party
politics, first as a Nixon speech-writer and then as
White House Director of Communications under Ronald
Reagan.


Pat
Buchanan
did not participate directly in the John
Randolph Club, but he had personal ties to several of
its leading members (on both sides of the Club but
especially to the
Chronicles
group, which included some of his closest
advisors) and he was considered a

prominent part of the counter-cultural movement

represented by the John Randolph Club. In 1992,

Buchanan
challenged then sitting president George
Bush for the GOP presidential nomination. (He would do
so again in 1996, challenging

Senator Bob Dole
for the Republican nomination, and
in
2000 he would run as the presidential candidate for the
Reform Party
.) Buchanan`s challenge was impressive
at first, nearly upsetting Bush in the New Hampshire
primary, and it initially caused considerable enthusiasm
in John Randolph Club circles. However, in the course of
Buchanan`s campaign and in reaction to it open dissent
between the two John Randolph Club camps broke out as
regards the
"correct"
strategy.


Buchanan pursued a populist
"America First"
campaign. He wanted to talk and appeal to the so-called
"Middle
Americans,"
who felt betrayed and dispossessed
by the political elites of both parties. After the
collapse of communism and the end of the cold war,
Buchanan wanted to bring all American troops back home,
dissolve NATO, leave the UN, and conduct a
non-interventionist foreign policy (which his

neo-conservative enemies
smeared as
"isolationist").
He wanted to cut all but economic ties to Israel in
particular, and he openly criticized the
"un-American"
influence of the organized Jewish-American lobby,
something that takes considerable courage in
contemporary America.


He wanted to eliminate all
"affirmative
action,"
non-discrimination and quota laws that had
pervaded all aspects of American life, and which were
essentially anti-white and especially anti-white-male
laws. In particular, he promised to end the
non-discriminatory immigration policy that had resulted
in the mass immigration of low-class third-world people
and the attendant forced integration or,
euphemistically,
"multiculturalism."
Further, he wanted to end the
entire "cultural
rot"
coming out of Washington DC by closing down the
federal Department of Education and a multitude of other
federal indoctrination agencies.


But instead of emphasizing these widely popular
"rightist"
cultural concerns, Buchanan, in the course of his
campaign, increasingly intoned other, economic matters
and concerns, all the while his knowledge of economics
was rather skimpy.


Concentrating on what he was worst at, then, he
increasingly advocated a
"leftist" economic program of
economic and
social nationalism.
He advocated tariffs to protect
"essential"
American industries and save American jobs from
"unfair" foreign competition, and he proposed to
"protect"
Middle Americans by safeguarding and even expanding the
already existing welfare-State programs of minimum wage
laws, unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicaid
and Medicare.


When I explained, in a speech before the club, that
Buchanan`s rightist-cultural and leftist-economic
program was theoretically inconsistent and that his
strategy must consequently fail to reach its own goal,
that you cannot return America to cultural sanity and
strengthen its families and communities and at the same
time maintain the institutional pillars that are the
central cause for the cultural malaise, that
protectionist tariffs cannot make Americans more
prosperous, but less, and that a program of economic
nationalism must alienate the intellectually and
culturally indispensible bourgeoisie while attracting
the (for us and our purposes)
"useless"
proletariat, it almost came to an
éclat. The
conservative group was up in arms about this critique of
one of its heroes.


I had hoped that, notwithstanding feelings of friendship
or personal loyalty, after some time of reflection
reason would prevail, especially after it had become
clear by the ensuing events that Buchanan`s strategy had
also failed numerically, at the polls. I thought that
the John Randolph Club conservatives would sooner or
later come to realize that my critique of Buchanan was
an "immanent" critique; that is, that I had not criticized or distanced
myself from the goal of the John Randolph Club, and
presumably also Buchanan`s, of a conservative
cultural counterrevolution,
but that, based on
elementary economic reasons, I had simply found the
means—the strategy—chosen by Buchanan to accomplish this
goal unsuitable and ineffective. But nothing happened.
There was no attempt to refute my arguments. Nor was
there any sign that one was willing to express some
intellectual distance to Buchanan and his program.


From this experience I learned a twofold lesson. First,
a lesson that I had already come away with from my
encounter with the Mont Pelerin Society was reinforced:
Do not put your trust in politicians and do not get
distracted by politics. Buchanan, notwithstanding his
many appealing personal qualities, was still at heart a
politician who believed in government, above all, as a
means of effecting social change. Second and more
generally, however, I learned that it is impossible to
have a lasting intellectual association with people who
are either unwilling or incapable of grasping the
principles of economics. Economics—the logic of
action—is the queen of the social sciences. It is by no
means sufficient for an understanding of social reality,
but it is necessary and indispensible. Without a solid
grasp of economic principles, say on the level of Henry
Hazlitt`s
Economics in One Lesson,
one is bound to commit serious blunders of historical
explanation and interpretation.
 


 Thus, I concluded
that the property and freedom society not only had to
exclude all politicians and government agents and
propagandists as objects of ridicule and contempt, as
emperors without clothes and the butt of all jokes
rather than objects of admiration and emulation, but it
also had to exclude all economic ignoramuses.


When the John Randolph Club broke apart, this did not
mean that the ideas that had inspired its formation had
died out or did no longer find an audience. In fact, in
the U.S., a think tank dedicated to the same ideas and
ideals had grown up. The Ludwig von Mises Institute,
founded in 1982 by Lew Rockwell, with Murray Rothbard as
its academic head, had started out as just another
limited government think tank—although Rothbard and all
other leading Mises Institute associates were
anarcho-capitalist Austrians. Yet by the mid-1990s—and I
pride myself in having played an important role in this
development—Lew Rockwell had transformed the institute,
significantly located far away from Washington DC, in
provincial Auburn, Alabama, into the very first and only
free market think tank that had openly renounced the
goal of limited government as impossible and come out
instead as an unabashed advocate of anarcho-capitalism,
deviating thereby from a narrow,
"literal"
interpretation of its name sake and yet staying true to
his spirit in pursuing the rigorous, Misesian
praxeo-logical method to its ultimate conclusion. This
move was financially costly at first, but under
Rockwell`s brilliant intellectual entrepreneurship it
had eventually become an enormous success, easily
outcompeting its far richer
"limited-government-libertarian"
rivals such as the
CATO
Institute in terms of reach and influence. Moreover, in
addition to the Mises Institute, which focused more
narrowly on economic matters, and in the wake of the
disappointing experience with the John Randolph Club and
its breakup, Lew Rockwell had set up, in 1999, an
anti-state, anti-war, pro-market website—LewRockwell.com—that
added an interdisciplinary, cultural dimension to the
Austro-libertarian enterprise and proved to be even more
popular, laying the intellectual groundwork for the
present Ron Paul movement.


The Property And Freedom Society was not supposed to
compete with the Mises
Institute
or

LewRockwell.com
. It was not supposed to be a

think tank
or another publication outlet. Rather, it
was to complement their and other efforts by adding yet
another important component to the development of an
anti-statist intellectual counterculture. What had
disappeared with the break-up of the original John
Randolph Club was an intellectual Society dedicated to
the cause. Yet every intellectual movement requires a
network of personal acquaintances, of friends and
comrades in arms to be successful, and for such a
network to be established and grow, a regular meeting
place, a society, is needed. The Property And Freedom
Society was supposed to be this society.


I wanted to create a place where likeminded people from
around the world could gather regularly in mutual
encouragement and in the enjoyment of unrivalled and
uncensored intellectual radicalism. The society was
supposed to be international and interdisciplinary,
bourgeois, by invitation only, exclusive and elitist:
for the few
"elect,"
who can see through the smokescreen put up
by our ruling classes of criminals, crooks, charlatans,
and clowns.


After our first meeting, 5 years ago, here at the Karia
Princess, my plan became more specific still. Inspired
by the charm of the place and its beautiful garden, I
decided to adopt the model of a salon for the Property
And Freedom Society and its meetings. The dictionary
defines a salon as
"a gathering of intellectual, social, political, and cultural elites
under the roof of an
inspiring
hostess
or host, partly to amuse one another and
partly to refine their taste and increase their
knowledge through conversation."
Take the
"political"
out of this definition—and there you have it what I have
tried to accomplish for the last few years, together
with Guelcin, my wife and fellow Misesian, without whose
support none of this would be possible: to be hostess
and host to a grand and extended annual salon, and to
make it, with your help, the most attractive and
illustrious salon there is.


I hope—and indeed I am confident—that this, our fifth
meeting, will mark another step forward toward this end.