THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Albania Celebrates a Historic Moment of Freedom From Tyranny

Over the centuries, Albania has always been a freedom-loving country. Despite its small size, it has played a crucial role in preserving individuality, defending its freedom and also that of neighbouring countries. It wasn’t always so. In 1355, when Serbian Emperor Stefan Duscan died, Albania was thrown into chaos. Feuding noblemen established their own dominions. When Ottoman forces entered Albania, they were faced with small principalities that were engaged in vicious fights among themselves. Consequently, in the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire established itself in the Balkans with little resistance. Local Christian nobles were still fighting amongst themselves and didn’t see the advance of the Ottoman Empire as a threat to their power. Instead of seizing the opportunity to repel the Ottomans, some Serbs and Hungarians even helped the future Sultan Mohammed I seize power. Freedom for the Albanian people came through the military leader, Skanderbeg. Born in 1405 to the noble Kastrioti family, in a village in Dibra, Skanderberg was taken hostage by the Sultan at the age of 18 and served the Ottoman Empire for the next twenty years. He deserted in 1443 with 300 other Albanians. They captured Kruja and declared its independence from the Sultan. On this day in history, March 2, 1444, Skanderbeg called the Albanian princes to Lezha to unite the country. Skanderbeg’s example gave impetus to the liberation movements in Central and Northern Albania. In spite of the discord among the princes, they founded a federation of independent rulers, which went down in history by the name of the League of Lezha. The League followed a common foreign policy, jointly defended their independence, and contributed their armed forces to the alliance. At the same time, each clan kept its possessions and exercised its autonomy in solving internal problems, keeping Albanians free. For the …

A Peek Inside China

  A Peek Inside China by Louis James   Seahorses in my soup . . . I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Yes, they do eat bugs in China – and just about everything else that grows and is not poisonous. The story there was that, as a guest of honor at one of Majestic’s small gold mines in Shandong province, I was served up a platter of stir-fried silkworms.      This delicacy is very expensive, as for some reason, the silkworms won’t give you silk for making robes and stuff with after you eat them. There was seaweed on the table behind the Silkworms. Never my favorite, I ate a lot of seaweed that day. I don’t even want to know what was in that last dumpling, but it sure wasn’t pork, as I was told.      I managed to pass on (I kid you not) a platter of fried caterpillars by claiming I was full and putting down my chopsticks. Unfortunately, I did fish a rooster head out of a pot of soup, and was told it’s not polite to put something back after you grab it, so it sat on my little crumb-catching plate and stared at me accusingly for the rest of the meal. You’ve already heard about the fancy restaurant in Beijing where I managed to scandalize folks by passing over a $100 bowl of shark-fin soup. Unfortunately they set a bowl full of dead seahorses in front of me before I could refuse – not chopped up, but whole and sad-looking. I didn’t have the heart to eat them.      Among many other strange things I cannot identify, I’ve now eaten ox stomach, duck intestines, and some sort of alcoholic beverage the making of which involved animal guts (I stopped asking when the description got …

Banning Pornography Endangers Women

by Wendy McElroy Since the mid 1980s, a strange sight has been on the political horizon. Feminists are standing alongside their arch-enemies, conservatives and religious fundamentalists, to call for anti-pornography laws. This phenomenon threatens the well-being of women in at least three important ways: Feminism is no longer a stronghold of freedom of speech; Women’s unacceptable sexual choices are now under new attack; It involves rejecting the principle “a woman’s body, a woman’s right.” Gender Violence? At the root of this threat is a new definition of pornography, which has emerged from the extreme feminism, known as radical feminism. It states that pornography is gender violence that violates the civil rights of women. Anti-porn activist Catherine MacKinnon once explained, “We are proposing a statutory scheme that will situate pornography as a central practice in the subordination of women. …” Radical feminists call for civil, as well as criminal, proceedings because this avoids sticky constitutional issues, such as the First Amendment. Civil courts also have lower standards of evidence and no presumption of innocence. But why is pornography viewed as violence in the first place, and not merely words or images? This view was well embodied in the much-cited Minneapolis anti-porn ordinance of 1983. The ordinance stated that all women who worked in porn were coerced, and could bring a civil lawsuit against producers and distributors. Coercion was deemed to be present even if the woman was of age, she fully understood the nature of the performance, she signed a contract and release, there were witnesses, she was under no threat, and she was fully paid. Women and Consent Consent by the woman was rendered impossible. The author of the Ordinance, MacKinnon, later explained that “in the context of unequal power (between the sexes), one needs to think about the meaning of …

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: What Does It Affirm?

by Wendy McElroy Last week I learned that a friend had been passed over for tenure at an ivy-league school. He had been teaching at the university for several years and was immensely popular – not only with the students but also within the department. With a book and several journal articles to his credit, his qualifications were in good order. So what was the problem? He was a white male in a department that needed more visible women and minorities. Never mind that the woman hired had less experience and fewer credentials. Never mind that the university had been grooming him – or that my friend now tells his male students to forget pursuing a degree in the humanities, because “credentials and quality do not matter anymore.” Had my friend been a woman, he would have been able to sue the university for unfair employment practices under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act states that it is unlawful for any employer: “(1) to fail or refuse to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, or privileges of employment because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” But to bring such a suit, he has to belong to a class protected by Title VII: he has to be a woman or a minority. As a male from German-Irish ancestry, he is not simply excluded from protection; he is the person against whom protection is being offered. Why do women have to be shielded from him? Because, it is argued, women have historically been oppressed by men. Since white males (as a class) have benefited from this injustice, they must now (as a class) bear the brunt of adjusting the balance. In her …

Free Market Summer Arrives In Prague

ISIL’s 25th World Freedom Summit July 2006 – Prague, Czech Republic Free Market Summer Arrives In Prague – a conference report by Vince Miller – Dan Stastny (Vice Dean of the University of Economics – Prague), Josef Sima (Economics Department Head) and Josef’s wife Tereza discuss conference proceedings The Rise of Capitalism in the Czech Republic Promoting An Austrian-School Version of Law & Economics The Politics and Economics of Radical Reforms: The Case of Slovakia West Against The West: In Search of the Land of the Free Liberty and Community – Voices from Afar The True Nature of Politics and The Story of the “Littlest Dissident” The Rise of Classical Liberalism In France Markets and Morals Libertarian Logic Liberty In Costa Rica Freedom In the 21st Century: Theory and Practice How To Find Freedom In An Unfree Europe Enterprise and Social Welfare Oil Price Fever and the Future of Energy Production International Thinktank Panel Africa Panel The Liberty English Camp Project It’s been 25 years since we held the first ISIL world conference in Zürich back in 1982. At that time the world was in the icy grip of the cold war; and the Iron Curtain, which isolated millions in socialist slavery, looked as though it would last forever. But times changed – very rapidly as it turned out. The Berlin Wall crumbled, the Soviet empire collapsed – and as we have observed, many of the people in the former Soviet states (having experienced decades of socialism on their backs) have rushed to adopt varying degrees of capitalism. Many have progressed at astonishing rates. Gone are the days when we could do little more than smuggle books behind the Iron Curtain via members traveling into those countries (conveniently leaving important titles behind – to be laboriously reproduced via Samizdat). When …

ISIL World Freedom Summit 2005 — Gummersbach, Germany

ISIL World Freedom Summit 2005 – Gummersbach, Germany by Vince Miller Introduction Surprise Meeting With Iraqi Constitutionalist The Moral Hazards of “Orange” Revolutions Why The EU is Doomed The EU – A Pragmatic View French Anti-Liberalism: Don’t Do It the French Way In Praise of Non-Centralism: The Swiss Experiment Tax Competition As A Means To Control Leviathan Globalization As A Peace Strategy The Limits of Democracy Africa’s Scars Will Take More Than Live-8 To Heal Africa: Cultural Impediments To A Free Society Networking Panel: Free Market Thinktanks Religion: Fundamentalism vs. Liberalism Religion: Are Religion and Capitalism Compatible? Report: International Free Student Network Celebrating The “Year of Ayn Rand” Banquet: Awards Ceremony Post-Conference Tour INTRODUCTION The ISIL conference this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of the founding of ISIL in Ann Arbor, Michigan back in 1980. For history buffs, we started out as Libertarian International, but later in 1989 merged with the original Society for Individual Liberty (SIL) which dated back to 1969. We changed our name to ISIL. A historical review is included in this issue of the Freedom Network News. Our 2005 conference was held in Germany at the facilities of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Gummersbach (near Cologne – or Kóln as it is properly known). This year many hot topics were covered – including the state of the European Union, globalization and free trade. We owe a great vote of thanks to Jim Peron of the Institute for Liberal Values (New Zealand) and Wolfgang Mueller who has just formed the only privately-funded German thinktank – the Institut für Unternehmerische Freiheit(Institute for Free Enterprise) in Berlin, for their outstanding work in hosting this event. The conference had originally been scheduled for St. Petersburg, but deterioration of the political climate in Russia made it necessary to us to change …

ISIL 2004 New Zealand Conference

ISIL’s New Zealand ConferenceAdvances Kiwi FreedomMovement by Vince Miller Conference MC Rodney Hide, MP (l) and Dave Henderson (r).Photo by Jim Johnston Introduction Update on Elbegdorj Tsakhia How I Fought Inland Revenue – and ended up their landlord How To Avoid Being Intimidated by Experts The State of Kiwi Politics Free State or Free Nation? The Hobbiton Tour The True State of the Third World Private Education Around The World Business, Profits, and Economic Progress Ecomyths And Their Danger Welfarism And The Destruction of Values Austrian Economics and the Common Law The Origins of Liberalism Genetic Modification: A Future In New Zealand Conflict or Choice In Pro-Freedom Communication Having Your Kiwi And Eating It Too The Global Warming Delusion Ayn Rand’s Contribution To Liberal Thought The Globalization of Labor Markets Freedom’s Fringes Sir Roger Douglas on Market Reforms Feminism And Freedom A Student Network Formed INTRODUCTION      ISIL’s 2004 World Conference was held this past July in the picturesque resort town of Rotorua, in North Island, New Zealand.      Conference host was Jim Peron, a recent immigrant to New Zealand (from South Africa). Jim runs one of the few store-front libertarian bookstores in the world – (Aristotle’s Books) in Auckland. He also is founder and president of the Institute for Liberal Values(ILV) – a free-market public policy think tank also in Auckland.      In preparation for this year’s conference, we had collaborated with Jim and ILV in the funding and distributing of hundreds of copies of his book The Liberal Tide to all high-school libraries in New Zealand. There was also a student essay contest run by ILV – the winners of which received cash prizes (provided by ILV) – 1st Prize $2000, 2nd $1000, 3rd $500 and ten honorable mentions of $50 each. ISIL provided scholarships for the essay contest winners – …

ISIL’s 2003 World Conference — Vilnius, Lithuania

ISIL’s 2003 World Conference – Vilnius, Lithuania – A Triumphant Emergencefrom Tyranny by Vincent H. Miller   Marshall Bruce Evoy Memorial award winner Jaroslav Romanchuk and Elena Rakova (both from Belarus) pose in front of the historic Trakai Castle (former capital of Lithuania).      In spite of a spate of violent conflicts, terrorism, and sundry other temporary setbacks on the world stage, many positive trends continue to quietly develop in numerous spots around the globe, and the movement for liberty marches inexorably on.      Nowhere was this more evident than in Lithuania, the site for ISIL’s 22nd world conference, which was held from July 6th through the 10th 2003 in the capital city of Vilnius.      At this remarkable event we sat shoulder to shoulder with the architects of a free Lithuania – along with people like Yuri Maltsev, who had been on the team drafting Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika.      Not so many years ago, many of the people at this conference would have been looking at each other over rifle sights. Times have changed indeed. A Fascinating Historical Background      During the 20th century the people of Lithuania were ground under the tyrannical heels of both Nazi and Soviet occupations. One third of their total population of three-million people were annihilated, with almost all of the 100,000 members of the Jewish community being slaughtered by the Nazis. Many of the people we met during our visit could relate personal tragedies of how members of their families had been murdered by Nazis. Others had been tortured and murdered by the KGB or exiled to Siberian slave/death camps.      Just prior to the ISIL conference, a small group of us toured the charming Old Town section of Vilnius, and along the way made a visit to the KGB museum. This museum had been an actual KGB compound, …

ISIL Puerto Vallarta Conference Spurs Movement Growth

Advancing Liberty In Latin America ISIL Puerto Vallarta Conference Spurs Movement Growth – by Vince Miller – ISIL’s world conference was held this year (2002) from July 28 to Aug 1 at the luxurious La Jolla de Mismaloya hotel in the Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mexico and Latin America in general (with the exception of Chile) over the past decades have produced seemingly unending spectacles of economic chaos, grinding poverty and massive political corruption. Not an area where one would pin much hope for a libertarian renaissance. But a libertarian movement has been emerging in the region, and the goal of this year’s ISIL world conference was to strengthen the network and inspire an acceleration of its growth. As you will read, these goals were met, indeed our expectations were exceeded. We assembled many of the titans of a powerful radical libertarian movement for change in Latin America: Manuel Ayau, founder of the free-market Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala; Roberto Salinas León, vice president of Mexico’s TV Azteca (the second largest television network in Latin America); Ricardo Valenzuela, a former Mexican banker who is in the process of forming a libertarian political party in Mexico; and Venezuela’s Alberto Mansueti who has just formed “La Salida” (The Way Out) think-tank. And of course there were Enrique Ghersi, ISIL’s Rep in Peru, co-author of the famous El Otro Sendero (The Other Path) book on underground economies, and ISIL Argentina Rep Martin Krause (Dean of ESEADE grad school of business administration in Buenos Aries) – both giants in the emerging classical-liberal movement in Latin America. With such powerful intellects and high spirits – all with a passionate sense of moral purpose, one got the feeling they were sitting in on a meeting of the “Founding Fathers” of a new era …