Thursday, September 12, 2013

InLiberty 2013

Me and my new libertarian friend!

We are back in Moscow from Georgia where we spent a week listening to (pro-libertarian) lectures on economics and learning how to debate. The summer course was held in a former military base, 40 minutes driving distance from any civilization. One of my first tweets when we entered the building was like "We already arrived and THERE IS NOTHING BUT COFFEE IN THIS PLACE". Although, later that evening we had our dinner, all in all this photo shows how I saw the food situation:


I even recall how I wandered along the road to pick some wild apples for lunch.

The conditions were pretty tough but we've got what we came for. We met Kaha Bendukidze (the former Head of the Government Chancellery of Tbilisi), had lunch with Jason Sorens (the founder of the Free State Project), slept during the  really interesting lectures by Anrey Illarionov (the former economic policy advisor to the Vladimir Putin) and listened to the many more libertarians! How could it be possible that we lived with them in the same small building the entire week eating together and singing songs after midnight with some of them?

The economists (Butrin on the left and Illarionov on the right)
are arguing desperately about politics.
Every day started at 8:30 am with attempts to take a shower (which was actually attached to the toilet room's ceiling) and pray for eatable porridge for breakfast or at least some whole-grain bread. The first lecture started at 9:30 and the last one ended after midnight, when half of students went sleep while the other half with some lecturers moved to the backyard to talk informally until 3 am.

9:40 am. Trying to concentrate on economics.

As I already mentioned, the lecturers were really great people and they raised the topics I was thrilled to hear about. They spoke about the history of liberty, the correlation of the political freedom and the economic growth, laissez-faire politics, the success of Hong Kong and the failure of Ukraine.

"KILL THE STATE WITHIN" it says (^_^)/ 

The most interesting part though, was to listen to the American lecturers. Especially, Jason Sorens as he spoke about his project in New Hampshire. The idea of his project is to recruit as much libertarians as possible to move to New Hampshire, so they could make a real difference in people's lives gaining enough votes in the senate. I knew about it before but his presentation made me feel so excited and depressed at the same time again, that I felt the urge to look at the whole thing from the inside as soon as possible.

And wow wow Tom Palmer was there too! Though, he himself raised pretty obvious topics (such as "Welfare state is evil"), apologizing for that he had to speak English (that was definitely cute), it was a great opportunity to ask his opinion on different subjects.And even though some subjects were obvious, we learned a great deal of argumentation which might not come to your mind before.

Anyway, Palmer seemed interested in the whole thing. Russians? Libertarians? Er.. wut?

As for Boyfriend, he went there more for the sake of work than the lectures, so he always looked busy when I tried to occupy myself with, like...


Or idling...

But still more drawing than idling. As the other members of LPR were debating, I was sketching them PASSIONATELY and with special diligence.

These guys!

I also drew Sorens! And asked Boyfriend to speak for me (because I'm too shy to speak with adults especially with such well-known guys in any language) so I could give the sketch to him. And I  we succeeded! Jason Sorens took it and patted and said he treasured it. This is how I met my new hero.

He also reacted when I mentioned this on twitter.

Another important thing was the debates time. We were divided into teams and each day we were given 3 hours to develop the arguments and prepare our speeches and questions, and than the debates began. At first, I was sitting aside and watching closely. The next day was tough for me, so I cried myself to sleep during the preparation time. The day after that, my new friend forced me (in the most libertarian way!) to participate. Early in the morning, he mentioned that I couldn't back out, so I had time to jitter and sob about that. But when the time came, with the help of our mentor and that friend I prepared a closing speech about the evils of the authoritarian reforms.

They are also speaking against unpopular reforms
(My speech was just a conclusion). Oh hi, Mao!

By the end of my speech half of my face was twitching nervously but.. people laughed as they supposed to and applauded. Somebody even whistled and came up to me after the session to cheer me up. I was relieved. Did I enjoy it after all? Yes. Did I agreed to repeat my performance on the next day? No, for the first time it was enough.

Me after the debates
The last day was the excursion day. The whole group was packed into small buses and we set off to the capital, Tbilisi, stopping at some historical sites.

When we got to Tbilisi I found the situation in the city pretty strange:
  • Modern architecture looked fine (Thanks to the president, Saakashvili)
  • The main street of the city, the Rustaveli Street, looked just awesome

  • But the rest of the capital looked really poor
  • Lots of poor people ask for a handout
  • If you turn off the main streets you'll find pretty much nothing but the dilapidated houses and backyards)

I got interested in reforms of Saakashvili and it all came together to a question "Why even though the Good beats the Evil, it doesn't last long and is pushed out by the system, because the system is already rotten?"

Our certificates of participation (^-^)v