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In an attempt to better share our current activities with our network, SFL is beginning an SFL Around the World blog post series.  At the beginning of each month, each region will post an update to their regional blog page to share their current activities.  Please stay tuned for more updates next month!

Liberty is alive and well in Europe! Across the continent over the last month, students have organized and attended several regional conferences directed by our student leaders. After 5 conferences in places such as Amsterdam and Reykjavik, we’ve already seen close to 600 students attend these events, partnering with local organizations to further spread the message of free markets and individual liberties. Check out all the photo albums put together by our media partner Sons of Libertas.

Also check out their video series “Faces of ESFL” — already published for Paris and Amsterdam!

To find out more and sign up for the future conferences to come throughout October and November, be sure to use the website esflconferences.org.

Apart from conferences, our new class of local coordinators is busy coordinating events for the new school year, hoping to take advantage of the first few weeks of class to give students an alternative to the groups which prefer government intervention to classical liberal principles.


Paris, France


Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Amsterdam, Netherlands


Reykjavik, Iceland


Vilnius, Lithuania

This post was written by Local coordinators Pierpalo Cecchi and Umberto Stentella.

New technologies are opening new possibilities for doing business and to create wealth, with instruments that were unthinkable a few years ago. Important examples are given by Uber and Airbnb. Beyond the specific service they offer, we must look at the general effects that these innovations involve: They allow a wide range of people who didn’t have the opportunity to start a small own business before, to leverage resources and skills that were not used for economic purposes. At the same time, a greater amount of consumers can access services thanks to more affordable prices. This is called innovation.
The old history of a capitalism in the hands of few large companies, which stifle the opportunities for small rising enterprises and condemns the masses to wage labour and unstable jobs, has been disproved. Instead, a big capital is not needed to make profit, anyone with a car and an app can become a driver, anyone with a free house or a simple guest room can become hotelier, thanks to an online portal. The so-called “shared economy” provides access to the business world with fewer and fewer resources, if the laws permit it. And here is the problem: all these changes are going to affect the interests of those who already work in these kinds of business. And so, what does the Government do? Prohibitions, controls, limits, sanctions. It musts protect the interests (and the votes) of those who are already part of well-organized lobbies, such as taxi drivers or certain hotels businesses.
These crusades are often motivated by the prosecution of tax evasion (but the vast majority of payments are traceable, so it’s difficult to hide something) or even serve to cover the failure of the local politics: that’s the case of the absurd reasons given in Venice and Barcelona , where according to several local politicians there would be “too many tourists.” Even such a profitable business which is sought everywhere in the world is rejected in these two cities. That’s insane.
A fantastic city like Venice, unparalleled in the world, is in fact facing a progressive depopulation, due to the difficulties in city transports and to the mass tourism that makes the cost of living very high. Young people in particular are going elsewhere and in the evening, when the tourists have returned to their hotels, the streets are empty. Venetian intellectuals are contemplating about this phenomenon and are unable to find out a solution for these problems. So they were in need to find a new “infector” in Airbnb, an easy target to charge of the high cost of rent, as it would remove hundreds of apartments from the residential market in order to exploit them for more short (and profitable) touristic contracts .
But could innovations like Airbnb not make up for the damages of a depopulation that, even without Airbnb, is already in place? Being open to a new and broader touristic segment can animate the city, even in the usually less crowded periods. It can lead to a tourism that stays even in the night in the streets and pubs, since having an apartment instead of an hotel room is probably going to lead to  shopping in stores as residents. And then there’s Barcelona, ​​where a local politics incapable of maintaining order and decorum blames Airbnb to bring noisy and messy tourism. But that’s a local politics fault, that fail to enforce rules by keeping out the uncivilized.
It’s going to be limited, if not erased, the rights of disposal of property owners, forgetting that the greatest profits obtained with Airbnb compared to traditional rents are a gain for the local population owner of the apartments. In fact, if an area is reevaluated, why shouldn’t the owners profit from that? Considering that in case of devaluation, they would be forced to reduce rents and then suffer a lose. If a given neighborhood becomes beautiful and attractive, why can’t you be free to move or go there on vacation? Previous residents who cannot afford the new rents will not end up in the street, they’ll just move elsewhere: This may not be a pleasant option, but preventing owners from profiting on the redevelopment of the neighborhood is worse. It means eliminating any stimulus to combat degradation, disorder or crime: no one would gain from it.
In the cases of Uber and Airbnb, no one can scream about any “unfair competition”, because neither commits any fraud or violence. Anyone who holds a business, as an enterprise that produces cheese or a clothing store, has to expect that at any moment a new competitor could come and potentially supplant him. It’s called business risk. So why shouldn’t the same principle be applied to Uber and Airbnb?
As Frederic Bastiat stated, in his ironic “Candle makers’ petition”:
“We are suffering from the ruinous competition of a rival who apparently works under conditions so far superior to our own for the production of light that he is flooding the domestic market with it at an incredibly low price; for the moment he appears, our sales cease, all the consumers turn to him, and a branch of French industry whose ramifications are innumerable is all at once reduced to complete stagnation. This rival is none other than the sun!”

So we shall not confuse the protection of the weaker ones with the defense of privileges and advantaged positions. We must not accept an idea of Government that heavily regulates even the most minute aspects of entrepreneurship, the ones that closely border on private life.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? Subscribe here for a weekly update on ESFL’s events, leadership programs and resources.

esfl-thought-series (1)

This post was written by Kalle Kappner. It is part of ESFL’s Intellectual Thought Series, a weekly blog series dedicated to the introduction of different branches in the classical liberal tradition.

John Tomasi: Free Market Fairness

Classical liberals and libertarians are used to utilizing either consequentialist or natural rights-based arguments when making the case for liberty: Freedom leads to prosperity and human happiness. And as these are generally preferred to poverty and suffering, liberal institutions can be justified on consequentialist grounds. Or, as others argue, freedom is the natural outcome of humans exercising their self-ownership and their legitimate claims to justly acquired property rights. As a matter of fact, both lines of arguments are very convincing to those who already entered the camp of dedicated freedom lovers. But they often fail to persuade skeptics, especially those on the left. This is because consequentialism and natural rights-approaches are neither the only, nor the most compelling ways to explore the meaning of a just society.

A society’s institutional structure can also be evaluated by asking in how far it is acceptable to all of its members. This is the broad contractarian line of thought which includes such diverse thinks as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, John Rawls and James Buchanan. In Free Market Fairness, American philosopher John Tomasi builds upon the contractarian tradition by presenting his own interpretation of the work of dedicated left liberal John Rawls.[1]. Tomasi aims at filling the gap between contemporary left liberal reasoning and classical liberal or libertarian thought, educating both camps about their opponents’ views and solving common misconceptions. His project is nothing less than creating a new theory of liberal justice dedicated to both the material welfare of the least well-off and limited government. Social justice, as Tomasi argues, is to be found in widely acceptable institutions and economic liberty is an important prerequisite to enable people to take control of their own life – to act as free self-authors.

Rawls’s liberal theory of justice

Imagine the following: Before you and the rest of humanity are born, you sit in a closed room called the original position, discussing which institutions and laws would characterize a society in which every discussant would like to live in. The room is separated from the real world by the veil of ignorance which prevents you and your fellows from knowing which talents you will be born with, which social status your parents will have and what your tastes will be. But you know one thing for sure: There will be differences in intelligence, skills, inheritances and the like – and as a result differences in the way people will shape their lives. Given that you don’t know whether you will be born dumb or intelligent, poor or rich, as a man or as a woman: What kind of institutional arrangement – which kind of social contract – would you agree to?

This question was famously asked by American philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002) and his answers continue to influence contemporary left liberal thought to this day [2].: A society agreed upon under the veil of ignorance would be characterized by two main principles: the liberty principle, which establishes a catalogue of unnegotiable freedoms (such as the freedom to assemble and to be ruled in a democratic manner) which are ordered in importance and where a more important right can never be restricted to ensure a less important one; and the difference principle, which states that inequalities in material wealth and opportunities are only to be tolerated if they benefit the poorest members of society. Rather than finding a compromise between equality and liberty, Rawls’s saw fairness as the key to justice. He envisioned a society characterized by social democratic institutions, including redistribution, a social welfare net and governmental intervention to guarantee equal opportunities.

As Rawls argued, such a social contract would be just, as social justice is a feature of institutions and rules, not of distributional outcomes – a point equally stressed by the classical liberal Friedrich August von Hayek. [3]. Rawls himself did not dare to predict whether such a society would be dominated by capitalist institutions – strong property rights, entrepreneurial firms and meritocracy – or socialist institutions – worker-led cooperatives, massive redistribution and egalitarian ethics. But personal property rights and economic freedoms certainly did not play a major role in his conception of liberty – they are thin rights. For Rawls, the primary domain of human self-expression – or self-authorship – was the political sphere, not the realm of markets and production. Consequently, in a Ralwsian democracy political freedoms play a more important role than economic freedoms and the latter can be restricted if the former are endangered.

Economic freedom as a basic liberty

This is where John Tomasi’s critique comes into play: Rather than playing a negligible role, economic freedom actually is an important means for people to live meaningful lives as self-authors: “Restrictions of economic liberty, no matter how lofty the social goal, impose conformity on the life stories that free citizens might otherwise compose” (p.93). Governmental regulation, taxes and other restrictions often limit the degree to which citizens are able to control the fate of their own lives. In today’s knowledge-based post-industrial society, the sphere of private economic choices becomes more important than ever – a point which Rawls severely underestimated. Tomasi thus calls for a thick conception of economic freedom as a basic right just like religious freedom or free speech. The corresponding institutional structure he calls market democracy.

Tomasi’s case for economic freedom and property rights differs from the two most prominent classical liberal defenses: Neither Milton and David Friedman’s utilitarian ethics – economic freedom correlates with efficiency, growth and general human happiness and is thus justified as a general principle – nor the natural rights-based approaches of Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard – humans are self-owners and thus own the fruits of their own work – form the backbone of Tomasi’s market democracy.[4] Rather, he sticks to the Rawlsian conception of guaranteed liberties as a requirement for meaningful self-authorship and deliberative democratic legitimacy – except for the fact that he sees thick economic freedom among them. By taking the road paved by Rawls, Tomasi arrives at classical liberal conclusions rather than the regulated welfare state promoted by today’s left liberals.

Can classical liberals support social justice?

What about social justice and its role as a guiding principle for government policy? As noted before, for Rawls – and also for Tomasi – social justice can only be found in institutions and rules but never in particular distributional outcomes of these institutions and rules. While this is an essentially Hayekian conception, Hayek famously denounced the idea of social justice as a mirage, “an empty phrase with no determinable content”.[5] But not only does Tomasi disagree as to the meaningfulness of the concept, he even claims that “social justice [is] the ultimate standard of political evaluation” (p. xv) and should be applauded by classical liberals. One could easily characterize this difference as a simple matter of semantics, because in contrast to Tomasi, Hayek clearly did not define social justice as an institutional feature.

But there is a deeper point: For Tomasi, society is an emergent phenomenon; it is more than the sum of its members: “Society, in its moral essence, is not something private – like a web of commitments spontaneously spun by self-owning individuals. Citizens are not merely self-interested contractors. Nor are they utility maximizers. They are moral beings committed to living with others on terms that even the weakest among them can accept.” [6] A society’s institutions cannot be justified on consequentialist or natural rights-based grounds, but only deliberately, by the approval of all of its members. As such, actually existing institutions can be fair – socially just – or not, depending on whether they fulfill the liberty and difference principles. As thick economic liberties are both a necessary condition for individual self-authorship and for the fulfillment of the requirement that society’s institutions should be designed in such a way as to benefit the least well-off, they have to be guaranteed in a socially just society.

Tomasi goes one step further by showing that most prominent classical liberal writers actually stressed the beneficial effects of free market reforms for the poorest members of society: John Locke, Adam Smith, James Madison, Herbert Spencer, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich August von Hayek, Robert Nozick, Murray Rothbard, even Ayn Rand all used the market economy’s beneficial effects on the poor as an important argument for defending their world view (pp.127-142). They did not like to call their concern for the poor a concern for social justice. And they certainly saw other arguments as more important. But the idea that those social institutions which benefit the poor are especially moral was always featured as an important argument in classical liberal and modern libertarian thought.


Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness is a work of political philosophy, not a handbook for concrete policy recommendations. But it can be concluded that his arguments imply a political system placed somewhere between the classical liberal minimal state (not to mention anarchocapitalism) and the regulated welfare state which dominates contemporary society. Government needs to guarantee a minimum safety net where voluntary action fails to do so, because self-authorship requires a minimum level of wealth and opportunities. In addition, some goods such as health care or adequate education are absolutely necessary – but guaranteeing access to them is an entirely different thing from producing and distributing them. Consequently, Tomasi favors voucher systems to government control and growth-maximizing policies to heavy redistribution.

But laissez-faire is no end to itself: Regulation of the economy is very reasonable where markets produce harmful monopolies, cause poverty or ignore externalities. Still regulatory capture – the misuse of regulatory power to advance narrow interests of the regulated rather than the public – is a huge concern to Tomasi. Thus, he supports the libertarian default assumption that markets should be preferred to governments, even if both are failing. It is most important to note that his conclusions about the appropriate role for government are not based on compromises or the wish to occupy a moderate middle ground. Rather, John Tomasi’s vision of a market democracy stems from a simple question: What kind of society can we all agree to live in? Instead of leaving the answer to John Rawls and his left liberal followers, he stresses the importance of economic freedom for people’s potential to take control of their own fate as responsible self-authors.

[1] Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi, 2012, Princeton University Press.
[2] A Theory of Justice, John Rawls, 1971, Harvard University Press.
[3] Friedrich August von Hayek, Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume 2: The Mirage of Social Justice, 1976, University of Chicago Press.
[4] See the respective blog posts in this blog series.
[5] Hayek, see footnote 3.
[6] John Tomasi, Free Market Fairness, blog post at bleedingheartlibertarians.com, 2011.
Further reading (apart from Free Market Fairness):


Kalle Kappner is a PhD student in economics at Humboldt University Berlin. He has been active in the German liberty movement for several years.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? Subscribe here for a weekly update on ESFL’s events, leadership programs and resources.

It has been the purpose of the first article of this series to recap some features about the phenomenon of trade that those immersed in the Austrian school of economics are all too familiar with. Having laid out these preliminary steps and thereby presented the tools with which we shall attack the battlefield that is monetary theory, let us now see how we can get from tribal, primitive, barter-based communities to the immense network of international trade that characterizes our modern world. money-1346357812LRi

As anyone who ever participated in experiments of the markets-without-money kind can testify, ordinary barter does have serious defects that early societies tried to circumvent as soon as they left the lowest stages of subsistence behind them. Obvious as these disadvantages might appear to us today, it is not more than an eye blink of mankind’s history ago that tentative solutions were introduced. This might have been due to the fact that violence was a far more common feature among ancient tribesmen; indeed, the superiority of trade-based interaction over warfare seems to be a fairly recent development. But still, these disadvantages were real, and eventually led to the replacement of a heavily barter-biased economy by one closer to our modern counterpart.

What are these defects? For one thing, bartering is an extremely cumbersome business: Whereas nowadays, it usually suffices to find somebody who sells the product you desire, people had to find ways to convince the seller that he needed whatever else they had to offer. If you were a potter, virtually everyone from the local fisherman to the cattle-owner to the tailor would have had to value the pottery you created lest you were going to starve or die of exposure. To avoid that fate, you might have had to finalize several “preparatory” deals before being able to buy your chicken. Such an enormous consumption of time and resources is set to drive anyone accustomed to the luxury of supermarkets mad.

Not that this was the only problem or even the most severe one. Insofar as profession existed (as I have suggested above, although the examples are extremely cliché), the goods each of them produced were unlikely to be neatly divisible into portions according to the buyer’s needs. The archetypical cattle breeder, in trying to exchange his cow for clothing, shelter or other food (assuming that this is his only “currency”), will have a hard time buying anything for a reasonable price without slaughtering the animal first.

And even if he did so, other problems persisted: Keeping the meat fresh for more than a very brief period of time was practically impossible, and many other goods share the same fate. Transportability was yet another issue; the sheer weight of some of the produced goods posed serious limits on inter-tribal trade. And so forth.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but for our purposes, it will do. In light of the above considerations, and very likely also intuitively, it does not come as a surprise that the first documented advances in trade improvement show our ancestors beginning to use salt, shells and similar items much more frequently than before: Durable, divisible, generally accepted and comparatively easy to transport were among they possessed over most other exchanged goods.

But we must not proceed to quickly here, for this sounds all too much as if such a change was imposed on them overnight, neglecting the evolutionary aspect that is heart and soul of the account I present here. Whether or not such a medium of exchange emerges at all is a trial-and-error process, with no way of predicting just which specific good will eventually emerge as a commodity accepted by larger numbers of individuals. Indeed, it is a contingent fact whether multiple media of exchange will coexist alongside each other, or whether one of them will dominate the market completely.

So while it is true that some items have come to being exchanged far more often than others, and in fact became more and more desirable for the mere sake of trading them in for something else in the end, they also had a clear non-monetary function when first used for exchanges (such as jewelry, as a basis for tools or to conserve food), and retained that function after becoming more heavily circulating. It is unconceivable that such a system could have been enforced at the point of a gun, as long as the trades conducted with any medium of exchange are still voluntary, or created out of thin air. None of the early civilizations would have accepted a commodity as legal tender which they had never encountered before. What is plainly obvious here will turn out to be an important subtlety later on, when we discuss the vulgar-Austrian cry that we are living under a fiat money system today.

A society whose exchange patterns are dominated by shuffling piles of salt from one place to another does still only have very remote resemblance with modern times. The transition from such rather simplistic systems to paper and credit money, and all the other forms in which we nowadays keep our assets, will therefore come under intense investigation in the following article. I dare say that this step is an essential ingredient in understanding much of the economic upheaval that shook the world in regularly occurring intervals during at least the past few hundred years.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? Subscribe here for a weekly update on ESFL’s events, leadership programs and resources.

When the summer of 2015 turned out to be the hottest in years in Germany, reaching temperatures of around 40 degrees Celcius or 105 degrees Fahrenheit in certain areas, it not only made people sweat and complain about the unusual heat. It also revealed how well established corporate lobbyism is in Germany and how the market forces of demand and supply are still being interupted by political interventions on behalf of certain lobby groups.

One industry suffering alot from the high temperatures is the German agricultural sector. A dramatic lack of rainfall turned seemingly fertile fields into barren wastelands, where a large portion of the seasons harvest dried up and was left to crumble into dust. One might feel a certain degree of compassion for the plight of German farmers as their economic foundation is being scorched by the relentless sun. Harsh times are part of business and nothing is more admirable than an entrepreneur recovering from a heavy hit on his own. This is alot harder in real life of course and costs time, money and alot of endurance. And naturally not everyone makes it back on his feet after a crisis. There is an easier way, though, one which the German agricultural sector chose to take. Instead of trying to rely on their own resources to recover they chose to flee into the cozy embrace of the state.

The easy way out of a crisis
Not even before the seasons harvest was brought in did the first projections of their extent appear in the media. Huge losses were predicted. There were going to be losses of up to 50 percent for certain types of agrarian goods. Among the greatest victims of the drought were corn and apples. Coupled with these horror scenarios were demands for federal financial support for the farmers who were affected by this. Not only did the largest agrarian lobby group call out for state-sponsored help, but many politicians, both from the state as well as the federal level, agree with their demands. Other claims were also made for the state to regulate the price of milk, which also took a hit this summer and plummeted to a new-time low. The EU sactions against the Russian Federation hindered German farmers to sell their milk products into this region, causing a local surplus of milk and thus a low milk price. With the future of the German agrarian sector seemingly in danger many voices are calling for strict government regulation and support.

The state against the market
With the relentless sun punishing Germanies farmers, what reasons might there be to oppose the demands of the agrarian lobby and their pawns in various political parties? First and foremost it is „public“ money that is being spent on a small part of the private industrial sector. Of course this money is anything else but a public good. It is tax money that is being extorted from private citizens and companies. So a small sector of Germanies economy benefits from the money of other people. Not only would they get paid by costumers buying their goods, they would also get subsidised by the rest of the tax payers, no matter if they would want to support this particular industry. From a Classical Liberal point of view this is more than morally dubious.

The second point is that these state interventions cause disruptions of the market equilibrium of supply and demand. Prices, which serve as an aggregated indicator of scarcity of and demand for certain goods, become inflated and distorted. Producers will benefit from higher-than-usual prices and will therefore produce more of their goods, despite there being an actually lower demand for them, leading to waste and overproduction. Consumers suffer higher prices and have to cut back their spending for other goods or even their saving. Only a small part of the industry will actually benefit from this: the agrarian sector that proved to be really efficient lobbyists. For their benefits and everyone elses loss, of course.

The dangers of corporate lobbyism
Once lobby groups representing small portions of the private sector start to intermingle with politics, it is everyone else who loses: the tax payers, costumers and other private entrepreneurs all suffer directly or indirectly because someone else seeks an advantage. Business is full of uncertainties and dangers. Reckless behaviour will be punished sooner or later, so only smart companies will find a niche where they can survive. Trying to minimize entrepreneurial risks by profiting from the other people purses is morally objectionable and should be opposed at every instance.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? Subscribe here for a weekly update on ESFL’s events, leadership programs and resources.

This post was written by Boris Nikolevski

The situation on the Middle East in terms of immigrants started taking its toll long time ago but until this year, SEE and Balkan countries were almost completely isolated from the results of the war clashes on the Middle East and North Africa. But the intensification of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq or Libya, showed that ignoring them became almost mission impossible and requires altogether active engagement for solving this problem as soon as possible. By analogy, these countries were also more or less uninterested about the possible consequences that may appear, or already appeared as lack of preventive strategy.
In other words, the situation overcome the regional margins and now became a intercontinental problem. Solving this kind of problem is not possible anymore with voluntarily actions of individual countries as a form of solidarity, but requires urgent making of strategy which will de-facto correspond to the situation on the ground. Creating and implementing such strategy is necessary because the transit countries used by immigrants are now improvising, without a real plan for long-term action, which is necessary, considering the fact that this is not short-term problem, the clashes have not downward tendency, and there is not only one wave, but a tsunami of immigrants.
The initiators for creating this kind of strategy should be the most developed European countries in direct cooperation with the immigrant countries. No matter the costs, the situation must be kept under control which means not allowing uncontrolled influx of immigrants in the countries designated as their final destinations. If that somehow happen not only the impact on the national economies would be disastrous, but the criminal abuse of the people who left their homes in search for more prosperous future through the transiting countries would be provoked and boosted.
As for the situation in Macedonia, as transit country, the potential problem may not be so obvious, but its becoming certain, especially these days. Through Macedonian territory the flow of immigrants is up to few thousands per day, and some of them ask for permission to stay or seek asylum. These immigrants use their legal right to do this because they don’t feel ready enough to continue their journey and if they don’t do that, they must leave Macedonia in 72 hours.
In the recent past Macedonia has proved itself as immigrant-friendly country, having fully understanding for their suffering and helping them in accordance with the possibilities of individuals, NGOs and its institutions, providing them safe arrival at the northern border with Serbia.

But this way of solving the situation, without appropriate long-term strategy is unsustainable for several reasons.
Regardless the solidarity and empathy of the Macedonians, with permanent increase of the number of immigrants, the political moves regional countries took, like the building of the Hungarian wall on its border with Serbia, Serbian inability to oppose that decision, noncooperation of Greece, ignoring the alternative passes through Bulgaria and Romania by the immigrants, as the impotency of the European Union and UNHCR and the arrival of autumn and winter, seriously raise the question if the foundations for humanitarian crisis would be laid in the period to come.


Time is not in favor of transit countries as it is not of immigrants and will require much larger allocation of material and nonmaterial resources on account of Macedonian taxpayers to manage the crisis which will in such a status quo state inevitably arise, and almost three million immigrants are already waiting to pass through Turkey and the Balkans to Western Europe.

Having all previously said in mind, the conclusion is that Macedonia, as one of the front line countries, has no capacity to provide such resources, neither institutionally or non-institutionally without foreign aid.

This is the perfect moment for EU to show understanding for these people, while helping the countries that are facing this problem and reaffirm its founding principles such as human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, tolerance, solidarity, respect of human rights, because Europe simply cannot afford such a disaster on its soil in the 21st century.

This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. European Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? Subscribe here for a weekly update on ESFL’s events, leadership programs and resources.

In an attempt to better share our current activities with our network, SFL is beginning an SFL Around the World blog post series.  At the beginning of each month, each region will post an update to their regional blog page to share their current activities.  Please stay tuned for more updates next month!

Things are going very well in Europe for Students For Liberty. A new class of Local Coordinators just wrapped up their training in Gummersbach, Germany, allowing over 140 young people to bring back new tools and strategies for activism that will be crucial for them throughout the year. Put together with the continuing class of local coordinators and those who have been promoted to Senior Local Coordinators, ESFL has close to 190 active local student leaders across the continent. The newly-minted Executive Board is providing meaningful guidance and crafting great strategies for their regions for the next few months.

On the events side, ESFL will hosts another series of regional conferences this fall, this time in 19 cities in just 4 months. Spanning from London to Reykjavik to Liviv to Tbilisi, these conferences will give young people in these countries the opportunity to learn about the ideas of liberty in their local context and local language. The conferences are run by the student leaders themselves, and they will be the key meeting places for the advocates of liberty this fall. More information can be found on our website esflconferences.org.

Last week, the next generation of European Students For Liberty Local Coordinators met for the first time in Gummersbach, Germany, totaling 137 new leaders from over 30 countries.

Combined with last year’s class and our Senior Local Coordinators, that’s over 190 student leaders actively promoting economic and social liberties in their city and in their local language.

This includes countries where ESFL wasn’t yet active, including Kosovo, Belarus, andArmenia, giving a chance for young people in these nations to be exposed to the ideas of liberty.

Don’t you feel a lot better about the chances for a new, freedom generation in Europe, Friend?

These leaders have already begun implementing projects in their countries and will be concentrating their efforts toward bringing ESFL to the universities and cities.

Specifically, they’ll be aiming to bring as many people as possible to the fall Regional Conferences we’ll host in 19 cities across the continent, including cities such as Milan, Tbilisi, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Heidelberg, and many more.

Register today

It’s looking to be a busy year for ESFL, and we appreciate all the support we can get to keep our programs student-led and driven!

We hope to see you at one of our many events in the coming months.Aleksandar

Sincerely & For Liberty,

Aleksandar Kokotović

ESFL Programs Manager

On the 30th of July the British magazine “The New Statesman” published an article authored by the famous philosopher John Gray on the life, intellectual achievements, and mistakes of the renowned Austrian economist and Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek. Gray’s piece takes a look both at the Austrian’s economic and political views, and critiques both.

The bulk of the article overviews Hayek’s achievements in the sphere of economics, where Gray offers various criticisms aimed at his theory of the market system and the business cycle. Gray even claims that Hayek’s greatest intellectual rival, John Maynard Keynes, was definitely the better economist of the two. Unfortunately virtually all of these very bold criticisms are left with no substantial argumentation. In some cases, a proper argument is presented but it is either incorrect, or completely disregards some very relevant historical facts. Here I shall point out the main errors in Gray’s critique and elaborate why he is wrong in his evaluation of Friedrich Hayek’s economic thought. (more…)

In the last article we learned how crisis-stricken Greece already implemented legislation that severly limits the amount of cash available to costumers. What appears to be a necessary means to stop a serious financial crisis is actually a symptom of a phenomenon that haunts many other European countries that appear to do well in the financial sector: a covert war on cash is being fought in countries such as Italy or France. Even well-doing Germany is seeing influential economists taking the side of the anti-cash-faction.

Different arguments have been used to justify this new trend and we have learned that all of them are very shallow and can not stand closer inspection. These superficial arguments are basically smoke-screens that hide another motive.

In the second part of this series we will find out what this motive is and why it is so important to explain the covert war on cash.

What is really behind the war on cash?

Among the arguments for the severe restriction of cash use there is one that is more honest than the others. It is an economical argument that argues that hoarders and spend-thrifts are responsible for slow economic growth. Money saved underneath a pillow is not circulating in the economy. It is not being spent and therefore the industry can not use it to increase sales and invest into new technologies.

Another victim of this urge to hoard cash is the banking sector. If people decide to use coins and notes they withdraw money from their bank accounts. This might cause problems for the banks, since they use a so-called system of fractional reserve banking. In short: every bank only keeps a small amount of actual money in their vaults. Savings on a bank account are basically just numbers on paper or on a screen.

If all costumers of a certain bank would want to withdraw their savings at once, the bank would be immediatly bankrupt because their cash reserves are just a fraction of all its costumers savings. This is because banks offer your savings as credit to other costumers in order to profit from interest rates.

Naturally this means that the creation of credit is dependent on many people depositing their savings on a bank account. The more people deposit cash, the more money is available for credit. And credit is necessary for a well-working economy, many politicians and bankers think.

Finding the Culprits

The desperate need to have credit widely available is the main justification for a fractional reserve banking system. Therefore, politicians and bankers try to use every means available to produce as much credit as possible. It is a self-feeding mechanism that appears to create unlimited wealth by producing cheap and infinite money.

The term „fiat money“ is often used to describe this phenomenon as money can be created from thin air.

This fiat money system funded by fractional reserve banking is the main justification for increasing cash restrictions. It offers a means for politics to control an economy. In their view weak or stagnating sectors can be rejuvenated by injecting new doses of money. This money comes from the credit producing system of the banking sector, aided by financial policies such as low interest rates.

Of course no resource is infinite, not even money. Pretending to ignore this fundamental rule can have dangerous consequences. History has taught us countless times about these dangers. The results of cash-restrictions and the fiat money system are looming just over the horizon and will be grave for generations to come.

Come back for the next and final article of this series to read about how the problems coming from the covert war on cash will have lasting consequences even for you.

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