Brazil: Time For a Property Rights Revolution

During the Language of Liberty Institute’s Liberty Seminars in the south of Brazil last May, the attendees were treated to a talk about freedom and human prosperity. Using the Economic Freedom of the World report CATO’s Latin America expert Juan Carlos Hidalgo made a convincing case for (economic) freedom as a prerequisite for human progress. One of the points he made about underdeveloped countries relates to how poor protection of property rights stifles economic growth. In Brazil this lack of recognition of property rights is most pronounced in the infamous favelas. In the years and months leading up to the World Cup the evictions generated some press, but now that the international spotlight has shifted elsewhere it is business as usual. While major sporting events in third world countries have become somewhat notorious for leading to these practices, they certainly are not a requirement. One state over from Rio de Janeiro is Minas Gerais, epicenter of Brazilian coffee and milk production. Its capital and largest city Belo Horizonte boasts the third largest metropolitan area in the country after Rio and São Paulo and is a major financial hub in South America. Consequently it has attracted swaths of lower-class jobseekers who, lacking the financial resources necessary to buy a home in the city, opted to build their own communities on the outskirts of town. Now, local authorities are threatening to forcibly evict the 8,000 families who have taken up residence there. Leaflets spread over the region announced military police would – absent a court decision – follow their orders to repossess the land “in accordance with the constitution and the fundamental principles of human rights”. Residents of the three communities, however, have unanimously decided to stay in their homes after the state government pulled the plug on negotiations with them. The …

Reflections on Kazakhstan: Ideas & Performance

I’ve traveled a lot, but never to such an exotic destination as Kazakhstan. The country and the people are a mix of everything Asia—Russian, Mongolian, Turkish, Indian, modern, prosperous, intellectual, traditional, proud, friendly, and aware. I landed on the vast steppes of Astana, the amazingly glamorous new capitol fueled by vast new oil riches of the Caspian Sea. And departed from Almaty, the old capitol nestled at the foot of spectacular snow-capped peaks that skirt the ancient Silk Road. Through the auspices of Pavel Kotyshev, Executive Director of the Institute for Development and Economic Affairs (IDEA), and the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (DAMU), I was fortunate to have been invited to join 10,000 other participants at the Astana Economic Forum & the UN World Anti-Crisis Conference. It was truly a gala affair. I am grateful to Aigerim Zhumadilova, Galiya Zholdybayeva, and all wonderful folks at DAMU for their extraordinary hospitality. If you are looking for a man of action to promote entrepreneurship and the ideals of liberty in Central Asia, Pavel Koktyshev is the star. Pavel is efficient and capable, he is a superior intellect, and he is good friends with everyone. At every turn, there were people and projects familiar to him. Why such global events in Central Asia? I think the preeminent purpose was to showcase the strategic prominence of Kazakh oil and the leadership of President (for life), Nursultan Nazarbayev (above left). On a tour of a local park I found this quote from the national constitution: “The Republic of Kazakhstan proclaims itself a democratic, secular, legal and social state whose highest values are an individual, his life, rights and freedoms.” This was surely music to a libertarian’s ears. Yet, one could wonder if this was a reference in practice to the natural rights of all—or to one individual …

Egypt Seeking a Path to Freedom

Dear My Americans, European, Japanese, French, and friends from all other nationalities, I am writing this post because by discussing what has been going on in Egypt, I found out that, unfortunately, the news does not tell the whole story regarding two issues. 1. The death penalty that was given to 529 members of Muslim Brotherhood. Regarding this issue, unfortunately the news only talks about the verdict, they do not talk about why these guys were convicted. So why were they convicted? Did you know that these guys killed fifteen policemen and 44 other Egyptians? Did you know that these guys burnt down eight churches and four mosques. Did you know that these guys badly injured more than 400 Egyptians? Did you know that these guys belong to a group that has been the source of all the radical Muslims in the world? If the USA and UK waged war in Iraq just to be sure that their oil sources were secured, do we Egyptians not have the right to make sure that our lives are secure? If you have a very well organized group that has hundreds of thousands of members that are very determined to rule you or kill you, what would your opinion be then? As an Egyptian that loves his country, I believe that people who do that do not deserve to live among us. If you think that these guys are defending their rights in power, do not forget that when young Egyptian people went in to the streets to send the message that the leadership’s way of running the country is against democracy and freedom, they killed many of them. Just few steps from the presidential palace. Moreover, a few hours later, Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the president of Egypt at that time, actually came …

New Whiteboard Version of the Philosophy of Liberty

We’re happy to announce that an updated animation of the Philosophy of Liberty, which is based on the epilogue of Ken Schoolland’s book The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey, has just been released. It was commissioned by Stanley Varner, as part of the upcoming Standard of Good project. You can view the original Philosophy of Liberty animation here.

The Inverse Relationship Between Criminality and Freedom

“The subject is criminality and freedom, and I will try to argue that from a libertarian perspective, these two concepts are in a very simple relationship of inverse proportionality, so the more that crime pervades, the less liberty there is; and conversely so. There is a kind of mathematical formula, which says that liberty is equal to 1/criminality, so it is the inverse of criminality. Of course this formula should not be taken too seriously, I will not try to measure the variables, but it is quite suggestive I think as a kind of summary or visualisation of the subject of this lecture. The first point is that it is very unsatisfactory for the thinking mind to define crime as any violation of the legal system as it exists at this particular moment, or in this particular country. Criminality needs to be defined in the framework of a theory of justice and I will use the very good and very convincing theory of justice of Murray Rothbard, as he developed it in his famous book The Ethics of Liberty.” [alert style=”grey”]The full talk is exclusively for ISIL members. If you are a member, type the password you’ve been sent below to view the video and transcription. If you haven’t yet received the password, request it here. If you’re not a member and would like to join the ISIL family for access to extra talks and resources, sign up here today![/alert] [protect password=”[email protected]#$”] [button url=”http://isil.org/conferences/lausanne-2013/” style=”blue” size=”small”]See more videos from the Lausanne Conference[/button] [highlight type=”grey”]This is a transcription of the Renaud Fillieule’s talk at the ISIL 2013 World Conference.[/highlight] [highlight type=”grey”]Transcribed and edited by Kenli S.[/highlight] Many thanks to ISIL for this invitation, and especially to Christian Michel who invited me to speak at this conference. Introduction I am an Austrian Economist, I’ve been working …

How 2 Days in India Made Our Year

Starting off 2014 with a bang, 200 freedom fighters from 41 countries gathered in New Delhi, India for the second annual Asia Liberty Forum (ALF). “Hundreds came, from countries like Afghanistan and Bhutan to Tajikistan, Thailand and Vietnam. Those with decades of experience met others who had just joined the movement. Some initiatives wanted to promote the studies of classical liberalism while others engaged in practical initiatives. Yet all shared the desire to prove that individual freedom and free markets in open societies provide the best policy solutions,” observed Rainer Heufers, who spoke at our Lausanne conference last year. We were pleased to join in on the excitement as ISIL President, Ken Schoolland, was invited to speak at the event on the panel From Aid to Enterprise. “The Asia Liberty Forum was a magnificent congregation of free market activists from around the world. It was impressive to make the contacts and to learn what projects are being undertaken,” reported Pres. Schoolland about the event, “Among the most impressive is the India Property Rights Project of the Liberty Institute (LI) and Action Research in Community Health (ARCH). And I was stunned by the extensive ground work performed by the India Institute on ‘The Private School Revolution in Bihar.’” He was not alone in being impressed by the event, Prof. Cris Lingle, who also spoke at last year’s ISIL conference, “I have to say that it might have been one of the most interesting and exciting such events I have ever attended anywhere. It is quite clear that Asia is fertile terrain for spreading the ideas and ideals of supporting human liberty.” ISIL has been hosting World Conferences for a number of years, while at the start there were very few such events for international libertarians, today the number of providers has …