Another great write-up of the recently-concluded 2016 PFS Annual Meeting by first-time attendee Walter Block.
Commentary on previous meetings. Media from the presentations will be made available here in due course.
What are the negatives? The trip took me roughly an entire 24 hour day (New Orleans does not have a hub airport). My internal time clock was messed up quite a bit, both coming and going. The food was so good, and there was so much of it, that I gained five pounds in less than a week. Otherwise, this was an excellent experience.
I just spent one of the most marvelous weeks in my entire career at this conference, hosted by my good friend Hans Hoppe: September 1-6, 2016. PFS 2016; Annual Meeting of the Property and Freedom Society.
It was a magnificent event. The speakers were excellent, all of them. That alone, is a rarity in events of this sort. Usually, a few are boring, or have views contrary to Austro-libertarianism; not here, not here. Please take a peek at all the speakers. I want to single out only two. First, the man himself, Hans. I summarize his speech (explaining his argumentation ethics and defending it against critics) in three words: Johan Sebastian Bach, my favorite composer. As usual, Hans was simply scintillating. Like Bach, his arguments were organized, brilliant, inexorable. The other speaker I’d like to mention is Keir Martland. He is only 18 years old, but more than held his own in this august company. He reminded me of a very young Roy Childs, who was my teacher at the Freedom School in Colorado when he was only 17 years old. Both Keir (now) and Roy (then) were just out of diapers a few months before I met them, and both were world class scholars of very tender years. I expect great things from this young man.
But most conferences I go to have excellent speakers. The difference, here, was the audience. I didn’t speak to each and every last participant, only, maybe, 2-3 dozen, but each and every one of them (doctors, lawyers, computer experts, even a weight-lifting instructor) were very, very knowledgeable about Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, and, of course Hoppe. Hans suggested that I may have had personal conversations only with a positively biased sample, but I spoke to maybe one third of the group over the four conference days, and I think they were typical: enthusiastic, knowledgeable, virtually all of them an-caps, very Rothbardian (a litmus test for me). Yes, those people who approached me, who complimented me on my contributions to Austro-libertarianism constituted a biased sample in my favor. However, I also approached participants during mealtimes. Typically, there would be three people seated at a table for four, or five at a table for six, and I would ask if there were any room for me at the empty spot. Those people I ate meals with in this way were surely a random sample of the PFS participants. And, yet, they, too, were just as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about our movement as any others.
Another high point for me was at the end of each day, when all the speakers formed a panel, and responded to questions and comments from the audience. I must also mention that I spent some 24 hours with my old friend and fellow speaker Doug Casey enroute back home, which was an unexpected pleasure.
Hans does not run things at a frantic pace. No event started earlier than 10:30am. There were 15 minute coffee breaks after each 30 (or 60) minute talk. We had 3 hour lunch breaks. That boat trip on the last day of the conference was heavenly. The food and lodgings were at a 5 star level. Hans’ wife, Gulcin, was a glamorous hostess.
A word about Turkey, at least the Istanbul and Bodrum Airports, and Bodrum, the town on the south west Mediterranean coast of the country. The airports were cleaner than any in the U.S. Bodrum’s streets and highways were less potholed than many places in the U.S., and far cleaner. There was no crime that I could see. I felt far safer there than in the U.S. People warned me about going to this country; my life would be in danger. They hate Jews. They hate Americans. I’d be attacked. I’d be put in jail. Nonsense. No, nonsense on stilts. The place reminded me of Vancouver, Canada, and Acapulco, Mexico. Very safe world-class tourist attractions.