I am just returning from Kathmandu, Nepal after attending the Asia Liberty Forum 2015 which was jointly organized by the Asia Center for Enterprise, New Delhi, the Samriddhi Foundation, Nepal and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. This forum brought together some 250 people from 37 or so different countries around the world. A list of these countries include, India, UK, USA, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kirghiz Republic, Taiwan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Morocco, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Guatemala, Palestine, Singapore etc., etc. It was a big event where this Freedom loving people got together to discuss the ideas of Liberty. In the following short discourse I share my experiences of this forum.
The Bright Side
Firstly, I was very happy to meet many people from Asia, especially young students, who are interested in the ideas of Liberty. They are not only interested but ready to do all the hard work that is necessary to learn these ideas and implement them in their lives to fight the intellectual battle of Liberty against the evil of the State. Meeting such people certainly lifts your spirit. Amidst this forum one thing was crystal clear to me, that no matter how hard governments around the world are going to try to take away Liberty of people via their oppressive political power, they will never be able to shackle people in chains for very long. The fire of Liberty will always burn in every human heart and people will, in the end, break free of their shackles. No matter how hard the politicians and other state officials will try, they will never be able to stop people from living their lives.
As I said, the exciting moments of happiness in this forum were when I met young students. I met a student from Hong Kong who was one of the participants in the recent Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong. He was out in the streets protesting against the government's oppressive policies. The most heartening thing to know was that he saw through the leftist demands of many protestors in this democracy movement. He was ready to question the whole system of democracy. He was ready to learn the true ideas of Liberty and for that he has already started a local study group. From the stage, during his closing toast, he asked the veterans of this field to help him in his this learning process.
I also met a young Palestinian girl who was fighting a battle against the terrorist Israeli government. There were flaws in her approach of trade boycotts, but she was determined to fight against the injustices of the Israeli government. I am sure she was also ready to correct her tactical flaws and move her intellectual battle in the right direction of true Liberty.
Most importantly for me in this present hostile environment in India, I also met people from Pakistan who were fighting the battle of Liberty in Pakistan. Imagine that! The Indian mainstream media and politicians always portray Pakistanis as if they are our arch enemies. A quick meeting with these Pakistani delegate will break this myth of people. It will make one thing crystal clear, that Pakistanis are just as humans as all Indians are. They want to live peacefully, just like us, if their government allows them to do so. The way we are fighting the battle of Liberty against our government in India, they were fighting the same battle of Liberty against their government in Pakistan. The hatred that Modi and his BJP government is spreading to divide and rule us will be totally exposed if Indians also participated in this forum and met these people from Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka etc., countries. The narrow mindedness of many Indians is truly deplorable. They haven't seen the world and so they are sucked in the hostile Nationalist propaganda of Modi and his BJP government.
The common denominator amongst people from 37 different countries in this forum was that we all are fighting the intellectual battle of Liberty against our own respective governments. As the great Austrian scholars have shown time and again, the real class war in our societies is between the government (and its official tax consuming class) and the people (which is the productive tax paying class). There is no war between Hindus and Muslims or Indians and Pakistanis or Chinese. The battle is between the State and its People. Our governments try to divide us on the basis of false ideas of Nationalism so that they can rule over us. I will advise people to go visit different countries and see with their own eyes the eternal truth that fundamentally we all are humans.
A Critical View
Notwithstanding all the good things that I experienced in this forum, there were also few things that bothered me a lot. And these few things are actually fundamental to the success of the whole Liberty movement because they are related with right ideas for achieving true Liberty.
One thing that was clearly noticeable, especially to a radical Anarcho-Capitalist person like me, in this Forum was the almost total neglect of the true champions of the Liberty movement in our life time i.e., two geniuses Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard. It is a sad fact that when someone is celebrating Liberty on such a grand scale, they forget to mention Mr. Libertarian Murray Rothbard who single handedly revived Libertarianism from its death throws in the twentieth century. It was rather frustrating to hear Hayek being frequently mentioned and revered but Hayek's mentor Ludwig von Mises totally ignored in the forum. Ludwig von Mises, as his fantastic biography by Jörg Guido Hülsmann says, was The Last Knight of Liberalism in the twentieth century. When it was dangerous to believe in Liberty, he kept the flame of Liberty burning through his laborious volumes of scholarly work - the list is too long with 25 highly important books and hundreds of scholarly articles and speeches - even after death threats. It was he who appointed Hayek as a director of the Institute of Business Cycle Research which he founded in Vienna, Austria. Later on Hayek went on to win the Nobel prize for his work on Business Cycles, and this work was just an extension of the already elaborate and pioneering work of Mises on the same subject (see his Theory of Money and Credit and The Causes of the Economic Cycles). He never compromised with his Liberty ideals like Hayek. A genius like Mises was never given a paid professorship by any academic university around the world because of his uncompromising radical ideas, which is a shame for the economic profession and the academia. Mr. Libertarian Murray Rothbard had to face the similar fate in his life time. But even after these ill treatments, these two true champions of Liberty never complained about it, and kept on fighting against the evil of the State. Now that the Libertarian movement is surging in America, thanks to Dr. Ron Paul who was also not mentioned in this forum, and elsewhere, Mises and Rothbard are getting their due attention. Young people all around the world are reading their works and seeing through the lies of the State. Hayek no doubt was great, especially young radical Hayek when he was working in LSE critiquing Lord Keynes, but he is certainly not more important than Mises and Rothbard when it comes to the Liberty movement. Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty" is actually a disastrous book for any Liberty lover.
I also felt a kind of feeling of dislike in the forum against any kind of radical Libertarian ideas i.e., Anarcho-Capitalism. People kept on praising and advertising the ideas of "Classical Liberalism" without mentioning its myriad of logical flaws. Now, there is nothing wrong in being a classical liberal (a much better position than being an outright statist), but one must also know that that idea has not worked historically in keeping the government smaller, which is its chief goal; one must learn, know and discuss its theoretical logical inconsistencies and historical failures also. In forum, I saw few people even praising government's intervention in the economy e.g., the Modi government's stupid policies in India!!! One session, in fact, was chaired by a local politician! It is strange to see a state official - the state, an institution which is the biggest enemy of Liberty - chairing a session in Liberty forum. It is ironic to love Liberty on one side and also believe that somehow one can use the system of government to achieve Liberty. Anyone who loves Liberty should have nothing to do with politicians and any other such state officials. The state is the biggest enemy of human Liberty and should be opposed lock, stock and barrel because of that very reason. If one place where radical ideas are needed more than anywhere else then that place is the Liberty movement. Without radicalism, Liberty movement won't go anywhere or worst, it will fail.
Back to the Bright Side
Keeping aside these very serious methodological and tactical problems, I also met individuals who truly understood what Liberty is and so hated the state. These people were uncompromising in their approach towards the goal of achieving a Free Society. More importantly, as I said above, I met with young students who were very passionate about the ideas of Liberty. Many of them were already actively participating in this movement and ready to invest their time and energy to learn the true radical ideas of Libertarianism and Austrian Economics. These young people are the future of the Liberty movement. I wish they also become uncompromising in their approach because only that will help this movement achieve its goal. I wish with Hayek they also learn the ideas of true champions of Liberty like Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Hans Hermann Hoppe, Walter Block, Lew Rockwell, Thomas Woods etc. I wish they daily read Mises Institute (www.mises.org) and Lew Rockwell's (www.lewrockwell.com) websites. As Mr. Libertarian Murray Rothbard said Hating the state is the litmus test of being a true Libertarian, and I wish these young kids pass this test with the highest marks.
Overall, I enjoyed this forum a lot. In my 36 years of life, this is only the second best event where I enjoyed so much with like minded people in a stimulating intellectual environment. The BEST moments will always remain the time that I spent in the summer of 2008 at the Mises University, Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn. I wish many such events take place in future where we all Liberty lovers can get together and learn the ideas of fighting the evil of the state. Despite our inner difference we can get together against the Statist world and wage our intellectual battle.
In the end I thank the organizers CCS, New Delhi, Samriddhi Foundation, Nepal and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for nominating my name for this forum and giving me the opportunity to spend four wonderful days amongst Liberty lovers in this part of the world. I am fully energized with hope for Liberty in our future. I will continue to fight the intellectual battle against the evil of the state as long as Liberty is not being won finally.