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Sean Gabb: The Twelfth Conference of the Property and Freedom Society (PFS 2017)

The always-eloquent and prolific Sean Gabb has penned a small write-up of the recently-concluded 2017 PFS Annual Meeting. Sean’s previous profiles and those of others may be found here.


The Twelfth Conference of the Property and Freedom Society (2017), by Sean Gabb

Bodrum 2017:
The Twelfth Conference of the Property and Freedom Society
Sean Gabb
22nd September 2017

The twelfth conference of the Property and Freedom Society took place last weekend, in the usual place and with the usual enjoyments. The Hotel Karia Princess was about the same as ever, and I believe I was put up in the same room as last year. Bodrum itself was somewhat busier than last year, which must have been a mercy for its tradesmen and hoteliers – though it remains but a shadow of what it was when I first knew it. This year has seen two earthquakes, at least one terrorist attack, a fallen pound and a bitter argument between Berlin and Ankara – none of which was helpful to the tourist trade. This being said, it all made a peaceful stay for those possessed of a steady nerve.

Since I have written at length about the Hotel and the company I find there, I will focus this short record on what was new or otherwise different. My speech, on The Value of the Greek and Roman Classics, I have already published in both video and text versions, so will not summarise here. But it was the first speech of the conference, and was received very kindly.

Everyone is in the custom of telling me what a fine public speaker I am. My own view, strongly expressed, though never without objection from others, is that I am at best a competent speaker. I am, undeniably, a very good writer. Whether I am more than that I leave to the judgement of posterity. Where speaking is concerned, I do best when I have written a text or planned one in my head, and made sure its headings and some of its wording are in my memory. I am then able to be fluent and to the point, and to give an appearance of speaking from a momentary inspiration. Indeed, there is momentary inspiration, so far as I am able to measure myself against the clock, and look round the audience, and cut or expand as seems to be appropriate. But nothing I ever say is equal to what I write. When I write, I have total control over the words on the screen. I can change everything as I write and after I have written. When I speak, the words already spoken are set in concrete. If I repeat a word or phrase without good reason, or say something less clearly than I would like, or speak out of logical order, I can call nothing back for amendment. It is most frustrating. If I seem better than I am, that is the effect of living in an age where anything above the mediocre, or that is not read out, is thought excellent.

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