Libertarianism is, obviously, an idea whose time has come. Or maybe you don’t like that term. There are plenty of others. My preference is old-fashioned. I like the term “liberal” — or maybe “radical liberal” — to distinguish my own intellectual commitments from the generation that naively believed that government could be created and limited by things like constitutions or social contracts.
Whatever you want to call it, the libertarian push is the animating force behind today’s most-exciting business ventures, technological innovations, cultural movements and political trends. Where the so-called left is most successful today, it is due to the urge to end war and protect civil liberties against state encroachment. Where the so-called right is most successful, it is due to the emphasis on keeping what you earn and giving freedom to the entrepreneurial class.
And think about all the exciting technologies that are transforming our lives in the digital age. They are wonderful not because they are giving us greater access to the dubious offerings of the public sector, but precisely the opposite. They are allowing us to re-create civilization itself based on human volition, voluntary association, borderless economic exchange and choice as the driving agent of change.
What if there were a kind of intellectual exposition of the most wonderful ideas in the world of liberty? It turns out that there is one. It is called FreedomFest. This year, it is in Las Vegas, Nev., July 11-14, 2012. This year is particularly exciting because it promises to be the biggest yet and to feature all the key minds that are carving out a future for human liberty, despite the continuing push by leviathan to control our lives.
I time attended two years ago, and the whole experience blew my mind. I might even go further and say that it changed my outlook on life and the prospects for liberty in our time. There was a gigantic diversity of people and institutions represented. There were large sessions attended by everyone and hundreds of breakout sessions you could attend based on your personal interest in some particular cause.
Because the subject of human liberty is as big as life itself, there really are no limits on what is being discussed. The result is somewhere between an intellectual salon and a large-scale commercial bazaar. It is both very serious and very fun. The levity that exists here makes for a great learning environment because the mind stays constantly stimulated.
It makes sense to me that a conference on liberty should be fun, enjoyable, unpredictable. Nothing should come prepackaged. This is something that Mark Skousen intuited when he started this event. Let the socialists be the dreary ones, wallowing in depressing predictions about the plight of the workers and peasants. Let those who love liberty celebrate ideas in an atmosphere of reckless disregard for convention and approved ways of thinking! This is what is encouraged and what you get at FreedomFest.
Laissez Faire Books is not only serving as the official seller at the entire event. We are also holding our own panel. This panel will be competing against other panels, so I wanted to put together something completely different that would attract people and give attendees a new point of view.
The theme concerns new ways to live a happy and free life, and promote the right ideas, in these odd times when the leviathan rules the physical world and liberty is making gigantic advances in the digital world.
Here is what we came up with: “Liberty That Works: New Approaches in New Times.”
We are featuring six presentations.
- Robert Murphy, the economist who dared to eschew academia and set out on his own to become one of the great teachers and researchers of our times. He has a shy temperament, but he overcame it to use digital media to produce some of the greatest economic education tools you can find anywhere. He has written a leading text for high-school students, and he never misses an opportunity to teach, always with brilliance and wit. His topic is alternative educational institutions
- Wendy McElroy is a philosopher, historian and theorist whose work, dating back to the 1970s, seems incredibly prescient in the digital age. So far as anyone can tell, for example, she was the first to consistently apply the idea of liberty to the subject of intellectual property and publicly debate others who were waffling on the issue. She has a fabulous new book coming out from Laissez Faire called The Art of Being Free. It is brilliant, and I can tell you this: There are passages in here that had me nearly crying tears of joy. Her subject is simple, frugal, independent living
- Jacob Huebert is the young attorney who wrote the best primer on the topic of libertarianism. The audio version of his book is being released to members of the Laissez Faire Club. He is particularly enamored with finding practical ways to carve out large-scale zones of liberty in a statist world and has some unique thoughts on strategy as well. Example: He eschews political organizing completely. His topic is private forms of security and dispute management
- Chris Mayer is the author of World Right Side Up, a book that traces emerging markets around the world to show how we are transitioning to a post-American world economy. I’m particularly delighted with his participation because he has a nose for economic trends big and small. His book had my heart racing with excitement about the great trends for liberty in far-flung places. His topic is supporting capital and commerce globally through unconventional investing
- Stefan Molyneux needs no introduction to any liberty-loving student under the age of 30. He might be considered the philosopher king of the digital age. His audience is gigantic and his passion for liberty boundless. Yet he somehow manages to maintain a beautiful, service-oriented humility in the promotion and application of the ideas of the libertarian tradition. What’s particularly impressive to me is he has done this all on his own, without institutional support. His topic is redefining communities of peace and learning
- Finally, I’ll be speaking on the need to defy the plan through your own digital civilization. Yes, I’ll be speaking about the Laissez Faire Club, but also about many other ventures that are charting new paths toward building a global intellectual push for things that are most important in life.
A shocking diversity of people and ideas! This is the way it should be. I’m hoping to see what emerges when all these great minds come together in an atmosphere of freedom and learning. In the right kind of setting, with the right kind of encouragement, everyone can come away from an event like this with new, creative ideas for tackling the challenges ahead of us.
I hope to see you there.