Live Stream “Donald Trump and the Decline of America”

The election of Donald Trump has both shocked – and divided – the libertarian community. His election reflects a tangled web of factors – his personality, the state of mainstream politics, people’s feelings about race and culture. Even hard data paints a confusing and contradictory picture.

Our event on Monday Dec 5th will be addressed by Yaron Brook, himself horrified by Trump’s victory, who will explain his reaction from a uniquely philosophical perspective and describe how best to analyse events of this kind. What matters most? Image or Policy? Does Trump’s success reflect the decline of America or symbolise it?

The real-life gathering is now full. Please register for the live stream.

The stream will be available to tune into at 1830, for a 1930 start, on Monday December 5th and will conclude by 2030.

A week of Objectivist events 

Low taxes and drug legalisation are not merely uncontroversial positions among free market advocates, they’re pretty much the consensus. What is controversial, and in fact denied by most people, is the notion that such policies, or indeed any political views, are part of the philosophy we hold (whether explicitly or implicitly), and derive from our view on ethics, which in turn derives from our view of our nature and of reality.

The exception to this consensus is Objectivism, the philosophy identified by Ayn Rand, in which she shows how our fundamental view of life and the world in which we live it necessarily lead to how we think about politics, and where she presented an entire system based on acceptance of – and adherence to – the fact that our consciousness is a tool of perceiving reality and processing the evidence of our senses, not of shaping it.

This Sunday, at the Battle of Ideas in Barbican Centre in London, Dr. Yaron Brook, Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, will apply this philosophy to three issues as a participant in three different panels. The first of these will be a midday panel on the war on drugs, titled The War On Drugs: Time For A Truce? He will then take part in an afternoon panel on Tax Wars And Inequality, and will close out the conference in an evening panel titled Is Utopian Thinking Dead? Attitudes To The Future. Tickets are available on the Barbican Centre website.

For those who want to explore Ayn Rand’s philosophy further, the Adam Smith Institute will hold its annual Ayn Rand Lecture on Tuesday in Mayfair. This year’s speaker is Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital, who’ll be speaking on the topic of “Why Society Works Best When It’s Organised Around the Entrepreneur”.

On Wednesday, Yaron Brook will be speaking to the King’s College London Libertarian Society about his latest book, Equal Is Unfair.

Thursday Speaker: Marc Sidwell

While running a libertarian meetup and researching libertarian personalities, there are various trends one observes in libertarians. To state the obvious they tend to be bookish intellectuals and are predominantly white and male – something which I have noticed is changing but nonetheless has been true. We also tend not to be the older sibling. We are younger siblings or only-childs, depending on who you talk to. It is perhaps obvious that many libertarians report being bullied at school. Rather less obvious is the trend in my speaker biographies for there to be an overlap between university and some other project, not bar or shop work, but serious commercial schemes.

How does Marc Sidwell stack up? Well on all the proceeding he is very typical. A white male younger sibling, bullied for being bookish, but an exceptionally successful creative in his own way. Marc is widely known from various roles amongst the top three or four people at City AM, an occasionally profitable London free-paper with a circulation over 100,000. Incidentally he says he got back at the bullies by being good at enough at drama to earn “grudging respect”. His entirely typical university side-project was exceptionally interesting – founding a company to shoot a Wild East film out in the Ukraine.

Marc seems to have taken the sort of unconventional route into journalism that would raise the eyebrow of an Equity Lord. He worked for two years as a “Literary Associate” for David Pugh theatre company, then took on gigs as a script writer at Shakespere’s Globe, as an adviser to an architect engaged to build a theatre and a researcher for ITV’s factual programming arm and as a PR consultant for the IEA. Again, in overlapping jobs he worked for the International Policy Network as a Research Fellow. Proofed and sub edited for Standpoint Magazine and worked as a freelance writer for a range of broadly right wing think tanks including the Adam Smith Institute for whom he wrote Unfair Trade, a criticism of the dominant Fairtrade brand in the UK. It was after all that in late 2010 that he settled down a little and started at City as Business Features Editor.

City AM eventually lost it’s editor Alister Heath to the Telegraph leaving room for Marc to rise to Executive Editor before a surprise cull sent Marc into another period of freelancing and he is now Content Director for Progressive Media – a stable of specialist magazines. This interesting career has left Marc very well qualified to speak on his topic “The Power of Fiction”.

Marc will be speaking tonight at the Two Chairmen, Westminster.

Thursday Speaker: Vít Jedlička

Vít Jedlička was schooled at the private non-profit international Townshend School in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. He studied economics at Charles University and the University of Economics – both in Prague. He also holds a Masters in Political Science and Government from the Cevro Institute in Prague.

In the middle of his time at University Vít, whose open demeanour compels the use of his forename, launched a local web site called HKfree.org and ran it for 6 years – it is still active today. This online gathering space for the town of Hradec Králové is the reverse of his present Liberland project – founding a real nation for an online community who has found it’s new homeland inaccessible.

The President’s other current projects include acting as “directing manager” for reformy.cz – a website for Czech libertarians – and regional president for the Party of Free Citizens – a Czech party with one MEP. He has also worked as a an IT salesman and an analyst in the financial sector.

The reformy website contains a prominent Ron Paul quote – presumably translated to Czech. Vít has been described as having views similar to Ron Paul and is also influenced by Bastiat. The broad direction of Liberland is a little like a startup, taking a great deal of direction from the top, iterating towards goals, and promises to grow into a thriving minarchy with membership of the European Free Trade Area.

Apropos our recent referendum, Wikipedia cites a Czech language video when describing Vít as a eurosceptic who:

sought to raise awareness of the democratic deficit in the institution of the EU and of the abuse of basic moral rules by EU institutions and EU member states

Vít is married and has a family with his First Lady Janniss. He is also recently father of a 3 week old son David. Vít was sorting out his flight to London just a few hours before David was born. I was not sure if that was a sign of his steely nerves or of nervous evasiveness, but it does show he is truly a restless campaigner for his cause.

President Vít Jedlička will be describing his Road to Liberland at the Two Chairmen this Thursday 4th August.

The Prevalence of Crony Capitalism

Yaron Brook, President and CEO Ayn Rand Institute, was the Libertarian Home Benevolent Laissez-Faire conference keynote speaker. He is a passionate and most engaging speaker. It was a delight to listen to him.

His main thrust was we should not care about income (I think that also means wealth) inequality.
I well remember Margaret Thatcher trying (badly) to explain it at Prime Minister’s Questions some 26 years ago. She was using her hands and fingers to display higher income and wealth for all, even if some were gaining more than others. The Socialists would rather much less for those at the top, so the bottom would get more. Of course the reality is (look at any Socialist state anywhere, anytime eg Venezuela, N Korea, Soviet Union, China, France, UK, USA etc) and what you get is a few at the very top getting richer and richer, and a falling middle class and an impoverishing poor.

And Mr Brook is absolutely correct. In a free market the rich may (and do) get richer but so does everyone else… if they take advantage of the opportunities of free markets. Those who sit watching Jeremy Kyle will get what they get ie not a lot.

The question from the floor (well, me) arose: But we don’t have free markets!? And the response was the top 400 are enormously rich because, like Buffett, Gates and Walton, they are / were geniuses and hugely successful entrepreneurs and they made wealth because they provided something that everyone else wanted or successfully won due to the inefficiencies of the financial system etc.

Well, fine I said. But – in UK terms – the next 900, of the top 1000, are there because of cronyism i.e. banking (and hedge funds) and property.

To which Mr Brook responded with the hedge funds and markets inefficiencies view. They don’t I tried to tell everyone. Largely, they simply go with the flow and lever up. Without cronyism – bailing out banks, QE, ZIRP, Help To Buy etc etc they wouldn’t be able to do that.

Astoundingly, as I recall it, he said or suggested there is no cronyism. I see on Twitter he denies that. The recording will confirm or correct me.

Eventually, he relented and acceded that perhaps 20-30% of folk make money from cronyism.
Now, it is not the point what the percentage is. (It’s much higher in my view in the short term.) But it took a concerted effort on my part to get him to say even THAT. Why does it take a concerted effort from a Libertarian, who is one of the strongest proponents of free markets in the UK, to get the President and CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute to publicly accept there is any cronyism? I can’t fathom it. I would love to hear his logic.

I tell you, in debate with the likes of Galloway, Mr Brook’s argument would be demolished by such a series of mis-statements and the issues he puts forward would be lost to the audience.
Free marketers have it hard enough without such an eminent individual – on our side – potentially making it harder by swatting away obvious realities.

This piece is meant to be constructive. Some or many will see it differently. As Mr Brook might say “That’s your prerogative” and I would 100% agree to that!

Jonathan Davis is a Chartered Financial Planner, an economist and a wealth manager. He is also the presenter of The Booms and Busts Show on talk2meradio.com Download the free app.
The show is about markets, free markets, capitalism and libertarianism – not necessarily in that order. Live Mondays 2-3pm and 24/7 on the podcast.

LATER: the video, already which post-dated the words, has been amended to include the full back-and forth with Jonathan and Yaron.

Help ex-pat Australians vote for liberty

Do you want to spread liberty around the world? Are you based in London? Are you interested in learning about a completely different voting system and helping others to exercise their democratic rights?

The Australian Liberal Democrats need your help. They are the only classical liberal party with an elected national representative in the world – Senator David Leyonhjelm. They need polling workers in the immediate run up to their general election day, Saturday July 2nd.

Volunteers who will be based at the Australian High Commission (based on the Aldwych near Holborn – it makes a famous appearance as Gringotts in the Harry Potter films). You will help inform Australian citizens based in the United Kingdom how to vote. The Australian ballot is much more complex than Britain’s first-past the post system. As a result, parties are encouraged to have informed representatives to explain the voting options to their supporters.

Volunteers can be any nationality. People do not need a connection with Australia to help get the vote out in London.

As well as helping to spread classical liberal ideas, this is ideal experience for anyone with an interest in political science and alternative voting systems. Australian volunteers will provide training.

The Australian Liberal Democrats will be very grateful for your support.

Volunteers are urged to contact Helen Dale, Senior Advisor to Senator David Leyonhjelm on Helen.Dale@aph.gov.au

 

New Sessions at Benevolent Laissez Faire

Just a few days to go to the Benevolent Laissez-Faire conference, and we are very excited to welcome you at De Morgan House (the new venue).

We have a few exciting additions to the event which we delighted to inform you about:

Dr Syed Kamall, MEP will be returning to talk about his views on non state alternatives for the provision of welfare. His talk last year on ‘Poverty Solutions without Politics’ at our Libertarian Home Thursday drinks event inspired a lot of discussion and we are very excited to have him back.

Dr Yaron Brook, our keynote Speaker, will be available to sign his new book ‘Equal is Unfair’ after his talk. Copies of his book will be available at a discounted price of £10. Book signing will start around 5pm.

The revised schedule with the above additions is now available. Please buy your tickets as soon as possible to help in our preparation for the event.