by SEAN on 2012/10/04
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“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve had frustratingly little to inspire me to write on this blog. You can see my most recent post is from April. Sure, I’ve had some interesting travels and met some really nice people, but nothing forced my hand.
Then this past week happened.
And now nothing is the same.
One of my great friends, Andy Duncan, is an avowed “English Rothbardian heretic”. In short form, he’s a libertarian and an anarcho-capitalist. If one has ever lived in the UK and seen the damage the nanny state can do, one can easily understand that, daaaling. (His blog,thegodthatfailed.org, is a summary of all things libertarian. It’s free and well worth reading. Often.)
Andy and I have worked together for years as financial trainers. Once, while he was here in Singapore, Andy heard me give a market overview that covered fiat money, fractional reserve banking, precious metals and dollar debasement. Really, all the reasons we’re still not out of the mess we’re in. In one fell swoop, our friendship went from beer to ideas.
Andy secured for me an invitation to the 7th Annual Meeting of the Property & Freedom Society in Bodrum, Turkey. This is the epicentre of the Austrian Economics and Libertarian community. Admittedly, PFS’s motto of “Uncompromising Intellectual Radicalism” was a bit much for this Joisey Boy, albeit a well-travelled one. I was, of course, intimidated and hesitated to make my travel arrangements promptly.
But when Hans Hermann Hoppe invites you somewhere, you man up and go. So I padded my journey with 3 days in Istanbul – can you believe I’m not writing about that – before taking the short flight to the coast.
I arrived at Bodrum airport and transport was waiting for me. Joining me were some well-dressed, friendly people who were chatting comfortably and included me in immediately. I was confused.
Weren’t these guys supposed to be radicals? I could immediately sense their intelligence, but the niceness was what threw me. Aren’t radicals supposed to be nasty, or at the very least, standoffish? What was to come?
I arrived at the fabulous Hotel Karia Princess, frantically trying to locate Andy. The official reception to open the conference was at 7:30pm, only two hours away. I needed to hang on to him there, surely.
Well, he didn’t get my texts. So I reluctantly suited up and headed to the pool area for a drink. I walked briskly and located Andy, thank heavens!
And what does he do for my initiation? “Sean, this is Detlef Schlichter.”
And off to the races my bowels went. THE Detlef Schlichter? The guy who put into perspective fiat money, gold, fractional reserve banking, and our current economic malaise into one single readable volume? Think Economic Theory meets German Engineering. Yeah, that guy. (By the way, if you haven’t read Detlef’s masterful Paper Money Collapse, something is missing from your life. Stop reading this and go buy that here. Then come back.)
Well, Detlef was more interested in my forthcoming talk about Expatriation than in talking about his own book. In fact, I didn’t get to ask him any good questions about his stuff because I was too busy talking about me. But I did find out Detlef is a fellow Gooner. (For you uninitiated, that means he’s an Arsenal fan and clearly a man of taste.)
After that, I met all sorts of great people. Some were my heroes. Some more famous than others, but all engaging, intelligent, and open.
And have you ever met someone who just oozed niceness? In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used that phrase. When you’re from New Jersey, you probably wouldn’t. Well folks, I give you Michael McKay, founder of Radio Free Market. The greatest compliment I can give Michael is that I wish I knew him all my life. I’m sure I’d be a lot richer, but there’s no doubt I’d have had a sunnier disposition much sooner. He has great stuff here.
What followed during the next four days was some of the most incisive, logical, and succinct lectures I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. It was as if an endorphin rush was strengthening my IQ. I hadn’t been so excited about learning in decades.
There was Joseph Salerno, speaking about sound money; there was Thorsten Polleit speaking about what bankers do and do not know; there was Hunt Tooley and Rahim Taghizadegan, speaking about the CIA, Iran, and the Iranians. Guido Huelsmann gave a fantastic talk about The State and the Gold Market.
I finally got to meet Jeffrey Tucker, the great author and Publisher and Executive Editor of Laissez-Faire Books. He’s also the only man under 60 who looks honest in a bow tie. I’ve admired him from afar for long. The Laissez-Faire Club’s Senior Editor, Doug French, gave a riveting talk about what happened at WaMu. Both Jeff and Doug are brilliant and approachable.
I apologise for the namedropping. I sit here, still gobsmacked, over the experience I had. And it isn’t just the intellectual stimulation that has quite literally rocked me; it was fun. The food, wine, and company were top drawer. And the final day’s boat trip is one of the greatest days I’ve ever had on my travels, if not in my life.
One other thing I didn’t expect: The Yanks. I haven’t lived in the United States for 13 years. I have only two American friends I regularly talk with here in Singapore. I find my views are almost completely incompatible with the way things are done in the US now. So you can see why I may have been hesitant when talking to some Americans who haven’t travelled or lived the way I’ve been.
But what a pleasant surprise I had talking to them! All were open-minded, radiant, and positively charming. They now represent to me the Best of America. In fact, if more Americans think the way these people do, this world would be a far happier place.
Finally, I must express my warmest thanks to Professor Hoppe and his lovely wife, Gulcin. Their hospitality was overwhelming. Not a single aspect of the trip was left wanting. I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.
I’ve made some new, true friends. And for nearly 38 years, I’ve waited to be intellectually energised like this. There’s much to do, and I’ve never looked so forward to doing my homework.
Indeed, it was a chief event, and over 100 minds startled me.
Run over to these sites when you get a chance: