How we organised a conference in China to talk about FREEDOM!

As he mobilised China with the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao did not want to create just a new political or economic system. He wanted to create a new mindset entirely. To realise these goals, both the freedom of speech and the freedom to organise had to be completely eliminated. For Chinese at the time, meeting with others publicly was entirely out of the question. Even within the walls of their own homes one had to be wary, as neighbours and even family members might report them to the Party leadership. My own grandfather was sentenced to over a year of hard labor simply for making a comment about Mao’s wife to one of his colleagues. Walking through the streets of Shanghai today, it seems inconceivable that just 40 years ago the place was under the thumb of such an oppressive regime. Markets and capitalist activity are everywhere, businesses are started with ease, and buildings shoot up without years of urban planning procedures. While on the surface, it seems that China has been completely transformed, deep down, the legacy of the Cultural Revolution lives on. Though the level of enforcement and the severity of the punishments have both declined, free speech and freedom to organise are still heavily restricted. As a result, there is a tremendous hunger for new ideas, particularly greater understanding of this new market economy that they are experiencing today. Chinese have embraced and thrived with capitalism out of instinct, but not because they agree with or understand it. Thus, a number of entrepreneurs and students are currently seeking out the answer to the question of whether or not capitalism is moral. Eager to provide them with the answer to this question, Li Schoolland initiated the first Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit in 2012. Given the restrictions on group meetings, …

Doug Casey on Opting-Out: from the state, formal education, and standard employment

Today we are launching a series on “Opting Out” of the system, where we will explore actionable methods of enhancing our individual liberty. To start the series off, we have with us today Doug Casey, the Chairman of Casey Research, who is not only a highly regarded authority in investment, but also in “internationalization”, which he believes is key to protecting oneself, as it keeps one from being dependent on any single government. His latest book Right on the Money, written together with Louis James, one of ISIL’s directors, has come out recently to give readers actionable advice on building and safeguarding their wealth. (Interview conducted on 28 Feb, 2014) Kenli Schoolland [KS]: Hi Doug, it’s great to have you with us. Doug Casey [DC]: Likewise, Kenli, thank you. I guess you’re in London as we speak? KS: Yes, how about yourself? DC: I’m in Punta del Este, Uruguay, which is a fashionable international beach resort in the backward little socialist country of Uruguay. It’s actually quite pleasant. But then I spent a couple of weeks in the Congo between wars and thought that was quite pleasant too. So perhaps I’m not as discriminating as some… KS: Sounds very nice. How do you choose your locations? Is there a trade off between sunshine and socialist governments? DC: Actually it’s hard to find a non-socialist, non-fascist or non-statist/collectivist/ progressive government anywhere in the world today. There’s almost no place you can go to escape them. They cover the face of the earth like a skin disease. And they’re all becoming more virulent and aggressive, which is disturbing. KS: So you might as well take it with sunshine? DC: Governments that are located in tropical areas do tend to be more overtly socialist, they’re mostly undisguised kleptocracies… that’s the bad news. The good news is that they also tend to …

Mobile Apps Bringing a Taste of the Free Market to China

When Uber launched in Beijing, my first thought was that they were going to have a really hard time in China. However, this was not because I expected there to be protests from taxi drivers like in London or threats of jail time from city governments like in San Francisco, but because there is already so much existing competition from mobile taxi booking apps in the country. While in Shanghai this past March, I was introduced to the latest of these apps, DiDi Dache, which is built in to the popular messaging service WeChat. With DiDi Dache, you simply list where you are and where you want to go, leave a voice message for prospective drivers, and in my experience, within 5 minutes you have a taxi. Even more impressive than the speed with which your taxi appears, is the speed with which the technology has spread throughout the country. Within just a few months of the app being launched, nearly every cab in Shanghai now has it set up in their vehicles and is using it as their primary means of finding customers, which has greatly reducing the amount of time they must drive around searching for riders. Even my 70 year old great aunt was using it so frequently and naturally, it seemed as if she’d been using it for years. DiDi Dache, promoted itself initially with massive rebates and incentives for both riders and drivers, some have reported that they were able to take rides for just 2 yuan, approximately 33 cents. This is possible due to the company’s revenue model, where revenue comes not from taxi fares themselves, but instead from “location-based advertising,” which uses geo-tagging to target riders with advertisements related to their location. A unique feature of the app is that people seeking taxis …

Meeting the Cheetah Generation

“Music is Freedom” declared the lead singer of H_ART the Band—as they opened up the first East African Students for Liberty Regional Conference at the Catholic University in Nairobi, Kenya—welcoming in the 476 students who came from across the continent to learn more about liberty and student activism. The students came from countries such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, Ethiopia, Uganda, and even war torn South Sudan, eager to meet their Kenyan counterparts and learn how to expand the freedom movement across Africa. Starting off strong, the talks commenced with the subject of entrepreneurship, with Mike Rotich of the East Africa Policy Centre and David Muumbi of the Kenya Youth Business Trust elaborating on how entrepreneurship can pave a stronger future for Africa and how the students could pursue entrepreneurship in their own lives. This was followed by an open mic session where students already engaged in entrepreneurship were invited to share their experiences and to suggest what would be the most important political or social change to help entrepreneurs on the continent. Over a dozen students eagerly told their stories, concluding with statements that what Africa needed most was “free trade” or “an end to corruption”. In fact, there were so many in the audience that were already involved in businesses of their own that they had to limit the number that came up to speak. Apparently the students didn’t need to be told to become entrepreneurs, they were already taking action on their own! Indeed, entrepreneurship was the predominant theme throughout the conference. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard a single word said so many times in a single day before. Thus it was no surprise that the star speaker at the event was the multi-millionaire legendary Kenyan industrialist Manu Chandaria, who challenged the students to reach their …

Austrian Economics and Social Media in China

In many places around the world we hear about the use of social media and mobile apps to help people communicate with each other in opposition to the state or against mainstream standards. From Egypt to Venezuela, social media has played an instrumental role in the organisation of protests. Fearing the same, the Chinese government has long sought to block the use of social media sites, thus Facebook and Twitter have a very minor presence in the country. Nonetheless, here in Shanghai I’ve learned about some of the innovative ways that local mobile apps are being used to spread ideas of liberty. While it is risky to talk about politics or to openly criticize the government in China, the field of economics provides somewhat safe ground to discuss ideas of liberty. Even then, one still must be mindful of one’s wording, because the terms ‘free-market’ or ‘capitalism’ are still blacklisted, whereas the phrase ‘market economy’ is perfectly acceptable. This past month a group of professors of Austrian Economics (a number of whom spoke at our 2012 Shanghai Austrian Economic Summit) got together and decided to create an online course entirely based on Hayek’s works. What’s exceptional about their approach is that the whole course is hosted on Weixin (known as WeChat for English users), which is like a Chinese version of Whatsapp. The lectures are given live, enabling students to tune in and respond in real time, while those who can’t make it at the time can still catch up later. The professor gives his lecture by leaving voice messages for the group. Each clip is limited by the app to being just a minute long, though they can be played consecutively. All the while, students can type in their questions, to which the professor can reply instantly. This style …

Dr. Barbara Kolm to speak at ISIL 2014 World Conference!

Barabara Kolm, Ph.D., is truly an Austrian, Austrian economist. As President of the Hayek Institute in Vienna, she presides over the Austrian Economic Center that carries on the work of Friedrich Hayek. Some attendees from Li Schoolland’s Bratislava Austrian Economic Summit visiting the Hayek Institute last summer, and being led by Barbara Kolm on the Hayek walking tour of Vienna. More than any other Austrian economist, Dr. Kolm is interviewed by the international media about the perspective of Austrian economists on the European debt crisis. “Nothing has been solved,” she explains. “The situation is as worse than it was at the beginning, and we literally burned money trying to bail it out.” Reason Magazine’s Matt Welch interviewed Dr. Kolm to discuss the Eurozone’s financial situation and what it will take to bring Austrian economics back to Austria. She points out that redistributive welfare states do not work and that there is no place in Europe. You can see the interview here. [tabs][tab title=”DR BARBARA KOLM (Austria)”] Topic: “Why free markets work best” Kolm Barbara PhD, President of the Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institute in Vienna, Austria and Founder and Director of the Austrian Economics Center. Being a worldwide networker she uses these abilities to promote free market policies; in addition she is a frequent speaker at international conferences on public policy related issues, especially on deregulation and competition topics, the Future of Europe and Austrian Economics. She is a guest at TV shows and comments daily public policy in media. Barbara Kolm is an Associate Professor of Austrian Economics at the University of Donja Gorica, Montenegro and a member of the Board of Business Consultants of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and a Member of the Mont Pélerin Society. She is President of the European Center for Economic Growth. Since …