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ESFL Executive Board Member and this year's winner of Student of the Year, Ana Jakšić.

ESFL Executive Board Member and the first European Students for Liberty Student of the Year winner, Ana Jakšić.

By Executive Board Member Ana Jakšić

I’m writing this piece hoping to inspire at least some of you who are reading this, whether you are a Local Coordinator or just a fellow supporter of liberty.

The past year of my life was marked by European Students For Liberty. The notion that there was a place where my ideas and actions would be fully supported and encouraged was almost too good to be true. I really found my place within ESFL and shortly discovered the true reach of my potential. Being able to fight for the causes I cared about and meet like-minded people from all around Europe was more than enough motivation for me.

During my time as a Local Coordinator I’ve organized more than 10 events and spoken about the subjects that matter to me at a regional conference and three leadership forums. I’ve written for the ESFL blog and other magazines several times, brought in around 20 new members and one new student group to our network. Throughout these 10 months I was constantly empowered and given freedom to plan my own actions every step of the way.

One of the highlights of my time as a Local Coordinator certainly was this year’s European Students For Liberty Conference in Berlin, where I received the first ESFL Student of the Year Award. There were not many moments in my life where I felt as honored and grateful as I did at that instant.

I’ve been fortunate enough to find a place that recognizes and rewards hard work, and that truly is ESFL. I’ve made a small impact in the world of liberty but it has made a great impact on me. People who constitute this organization are such a driven, committed and compassionate group of individuals that being next to them I don’t even feel deserving of the award.

Working for ESFL has been an ongoing learning and development process – sometimes challenging but always gratifying. It was an experience that shaped me into the person that I always wanted to be.

Now that I’ve joined the Executive Board one of my main goals is to ensure that the next generation of Local Coordinators feels as empowered and motivated as I was in their place.

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.

By Local Coordinator Alfredo Pascual

Prinz Philipp von und zu Liechtenstein, Regierungschef Stv Dr Thomas Zwiefelhofer, and Prinz Michael von und zu Liechtenstein at the conference.

Prinz Philipp von und zu Liechtenstein, Regierungschef Stv Dr Thomas Zwiefelhofer, and Prinz Michael von und zu Liechtenstein at the conference.

Local Coordinator Daniel Issing and I were invited to attend the XI. Gottfried von Haberler Conference, hosted by the Liechtenstein-based think tank European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation (ECAEF) Vaduz on May 29 at the University of Liechtenstein. The main topic was downsizing states and empowering local decision making. President of the ECAEF, H. S. H. Prince Michael von und zu Liechtenstein, gave the welcoming speech followed by the opening of the Conference by Deputy Prime Minister of Liechtenstein Thomas Zwiefelhofer.

The first session, Stranglehold of the Powerful,” was moderated by Peter A. Fischer, director of the economics section of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. In his introduction, he claimed that the richest countries in the world tend to be small, because they are more flexible and adaptable.

Recently there has been quite a lot of talk about the renewed proposal of “tax harmonization” in the European Union. Tax harmonization is an idea which has been floating around for years, but was never enforced because of the sizeable opposition which the idea encountered amongst various member states of the union. Recently however, the leaders of arguably the most influential member states with two of the biggest economies in the union, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande have been pressing for exactly such a union-wide tax reform, which would centrally establish a minimum level of corporate taxation for all member-states of the union. It is very important to consider this particular reform in more detail because its possible economic and political consequences can be very significant for the entire European Union. (more…)

This post was written by Executive board member Ana Jakšić.

Marxist analysis of feminism is full of conceptual problems and inner paradoxes. This article will deal with those problems through two dimensions. Firstly by covering, in theory already well known but in practice rarely spoken about, problems concerning the relationship between modern socialist feminism and its theoretical foundation – Marxist theory. The other dimension will be covering theoretical and practical work of the socialist feminism itself.

First, we have to get familiar with Marxist theory and its stands on women’s issues. Marxism itself, as a conflict theory that gave birth to the whole left movement, had two outcomes for women. One on the ideological and the other on practical level. Both were utterly harmful to the women’s rights movement and to women as individuals.

On the ideological level, by failing to recognize people as individual political subjects, Marxism positioned the relation between man and woman beyond the borders of social phenomena, thus shifting it into a completely biological relation. The problem of inequality between man and women, which is the outcome of different patriarchal structures, has been completely biologized by Marx himself in his work The German Ideology.marxismleninism-159018_640

When Marxist theorists weren’t preoccupied with delegitimizing and hiding away women’s issues, their approach to the problem of women’s subordination was of an entirely reductionist nature. The shining example of this is Engels’ theory that the genesis of capitalism caused patriarchy to occur and that the proletarian revolution will simultaneously free women from the shackles of patriarchy. His theory has no empirical support, and by putting so much emphasis on economic determinism he reduced women’s subordination to a casual and unimportant ideological consequence.
As was previously mentioned, Marxism did, because of the enormous political influence of this quasi-revolutionary science, disable all categories of oppressed people to constitute themselves as political subjects, because within it’s paradigm it completely ignores the fact that class is made out of individuals, one by one. That means that the masses weren’t fighting for themselves but for the party and their commander. And when the big economic transformation happened (forceful nationalization of private property and constitution of socialist countries), fundamental change (transition from socialism to communism) never came about because people themselves hadn’t changed.
Besides the fact that the Marxist movement failed to achieve any real and relevant change when women’s issues are concerned, it went a step further. It disabled women to carry out the wanted change by themselves. On the practical level, all communist parties and leaders reacted to any attempt by women to unite, so they could face and challenge the issues of gender inequality, by shutting them down and labeling them as fractionists.
In order to find empirical evidence for the aforementioned, I need to look no further than my own (ex) country, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where in 1953, the Communist party abolished the Women’s Anti-Fascist Front under the explanation of “too much effort being put into political engagement”.

The conclusion that follows directly from the Marxist premise is that, women cannot exist as a political subject outside of their own class which as a consequence has the fact that the synthesis between Marxism and feminism requires a fundamental reconstruction of the basic premises of Marxist theory – which is, you’ll agree, an impossible task.

Marxist theory, even in it’s least dogmatic interpretation and understanding still denies the most basic postulate of socialist feminism – that the housework women do at home is in fact unpaid, exploitative work. In Marxist theory, all work women traditionally do at home is a thing of nature (The German Ideology), and even if we could get over this vulgar biologization we could not reconcile Marxism with the demands of social feminists because in Marxist theory no work can be recognized as real work unless it has market value.

Not only did modern socialist feminists base their theory on the one that denies their problems and themselves, but they found their arch enemy and culprit in capitalism, completely ignoring consumer power and emancipatory recourses it gave them, also disregarding the fact that patriarchy survived and thrived in every socialist regime there was.

Concrete political goals, usually demanded by the socialist feminists have proven to be not only dysfunctional, but also damaging for the feminist movement. Paradoxically, equality demanding activists who fight for their cause by demanding positive discrimination, implicitly only confirm their own inferiority. Be it positive or negative, discrimination is still discrimination and demanding special treatment for a certain social group only reinforces beliefs that the aforementioned group is not capable of achieving the wanted changes on its own.

Second wave socialist feminists that worked on strengthening the welfare state indirectly worked on their our discrediting. Their “accomplishments” didn’t bring more political, or any other type of power to women, and their unrealistic demands for maternity leave only had negative consequences where they were implemented, because it became riskier for employers to hire women regardless of their qualifications.

While other requests made by socialist feminists completely stepped out of boundaries of reality. Here I’m thinking primarily about the request for paid housework. Even if we could, by some act of miracle, determine the market price for this type of work, we would still be doing women harm because this measure for equality would only work as another mechanism for keeping women at home, in the private sphere.

Also, higher minimal wages, that socialist feminist explicitly fought for, only destroy the dynamic of the market and just create more space for gray economy to thrive in. Establishing and raising minimal wages has proven to be counterproductive, especially for women. As is already known, unemployment goes higher, so it really is no surprise that most of the grey economy is composed of women in today’s society.

As a closing argument, I have to emphasize that it would be careless and ignorant to say that socialist feminist didn’t do any good when it comes to strengthening the women’s movement and recognizing certain problems which other types of feminist theories were blind for (opening up a question of double oppression, making the distinction between private and public patriarchy). Nevertheless, even though they pointed out some major problems, all the solutions they provided were inefficient and worst of all, counterproductive.

1. Vitig M. (2010). Ženom se ne rađa, Časopis za kvir teoriju i kulturu 1-2, (108-117).
2. Milić A. (2011), Uvod u rodne teorije, Mediterran publishing, Novi Sad, (153-172).

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.

FEE Essay CompetitionYou probably have some friends who aren’t classical liberals. Maybe some of them are more conservative, or maybe some are more progressive. Have you ever tried to convince them of classical liberal ideas? This year’s essay competition by European Students For Liberty offers you the chance to write an open letter to your friends. If you win, you’ll have a chance to be published in The Freeman or Anything Peaceful!

Communicating liberty – advocate classical liberalism to your conservative or progressive friends

“I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” – Ronald Reagan

Until the rise of socialism, conservatism was the political opposite of liberalism. But isn’t it possible to defend well-established traditions from within the view of classical liberalism? How does liberalism include conservative values in today’s sense that impact family, religion and moral conventions?

“The liberal differs from the conservative in his willingness to face this ignorance and to admit how little we know, without claiming the authority of supernatural forces of knowledge where his reason fails him.” – ​Friedrich A. von Hayek

Women’s rights, the abolitionist movement, anti-imperialism, and the fight against aristocratic privileges– all of these historical movements were heavily influenced by classical liberal thought. We can trace threads of classical liberal philosophy through to today’s issues, too, whether it’s LGBT rights, the formation of the Schengen zone agreement, or discussions about sweatshop labor and business regulations.

Should we regard classical liberalism as another form of progressivism, even today? How important is it to illustrate that the market mechanism can produce results that further the cause of social justice? Is it necessary to face matters such as gender inequality and xenophobia when defending classical liberalism?

We all believe that a free society is the best foundation for a flourishing society, where all these values can be achieved. And we want you to write about it.

The main assignment is to write an open letter to your conservative or progressive leaning friends. Pick one side to talk to. Try to be as convincing as possible in this open letter as to why they (as left-wing, right-wing, progressive or conservative students) should be classical liberals.

Your open letter should have 1200 words at most. We’ll accept submissions until August 15. A jury will choose one winner addressing conservative students and one winner addressing progressive students, each receiving a prize of €250. Winners will have a chance to have their work published in the Freeman or on Anything Peaceful.

The jury will take into account both style and content. Style matters, because an open letter that is boring or offensive will not be read. And content matters – facts and theories are both relevant. It’s ok and encouraged to reference academic work that supports your argument, but the main goal is to translate your arguments into a nice, interesting and fun open letter to your friends.

Please make sure to send in your submissions to Academic Programs Director Nur Baysal.

Formal qualifications:

Max 1200 words

No footnotes

Style and content matters

Helvetica, size 12

Spacing 1.5

Deadline: August 15, 2015

I was confident that the upcoming attempt to legalise gay marriage in Ireland will be successful. And where I resident in Ireland, I’d have ticked the ‘Yes’ box. But it wouldn’t be with the same enthusiasm of most others entering the ballot box hoping to see Ireland turn the page onto a new important chapter. In fact, until quite recently, I was toying with the idea of supporting a ‘No’ vote. What changed? Well it certainly was not my attitude to the rights of gays and lesbians: gay people should enjoy as many rights as straight people – I thought that then and I think that now.LGBT

My issue was and indeed is that marriage of any stripe should not be subject to the whims of the majority. Calling for a ‘No’ vote was going to be my small way of telling the state what I thought of it and more specifically, what I thought of its interest in my personal life. It would not have been much, but as a holder of the minority opinion in almost any pub conversation, I have come to accept and perhaps even embrace this reality.

Marriage is personal. Marriage belongs in the same bracket as telling him or her you love them for the first time. It has more in common with the first kiss than any tax band. People tell me that marriage is a contract, but they are obviously not as romantic as me! And further, it can be a contract without the government defining it. For how many centuries have courts used contracts that were privately drawn up as a point of arbitration?

I love marriage. I love going to weddings; I love hearing that friends are taking the plunge; and I will be desperately disappointed if I never get to marry. And if the state told me tomorrow that I could not marry, it would not change anything. I would still want it. So if I am not willing to be forbidden, why should I ask for permission? If I am in love, David Cameron, Enda Kenny, Barack Obama, or whoever it might be, are not going to be the people from whom I seek permission. I might ask the father first…but then, I might also die shortly after.

In short, that any government thinks it can choose who or how I can love disgusts me. But I am slowly beginning to mature a little more politically. I have gone through my radical no compromise phase and realised that I could march outside Leinster House or Westminster with my placard of liberty until the cows come home, but it would not change one simple fact: we are, mostly, game players. The state has set the rules and until the day comes when man rejects this shameful reality, we need to prise every last bit of liberty we can from the cold hands of government. We should demand lower taxes; we should demand an end to the War on Drugs; and we should cast a vote that allows our gay and lesbian friends to enjoy the walk down the aisle as we do.

We must, however, do so with due deference to the liberty of those who would not have it so. The churches have every right to continue as they have, choosing only to wed those of the opposite sex. Any future effort to rob religion of its own autonomy would be as immoral as it would be unwise. It would be immoral for it would mean that the progressives who have for so long fought the arrogance of those who would reduce homosexuals to second class citizens, have become something similar, but worse on account of the stench of hypocrisy. And it would be unwise, for surely the current efforts to gain access to marriage are but a step on the road to a society that is better for the LGBT community in a far broader sense. Stepping on the rights of others is hardly the way to build this society.

Ultimately, were marriage an entirely private matter, neither the freedom to love how you elect, nor the freedom to practice your faith as you please would be at risk. But it is not. And much though we should take the referendum in Ireland as an opportunity to question the need for the state in such matters, we must equally be careful to protect the liberty of both the ‘Yes’and ‘No’ camps alike, as the temptation to replace one tyranny with another is once more made possible by the existence of overbearing government.

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.

I’m not sure how many times you’ve heard it, or even brought forth this point yourself. Personally, I’ve stopped counting long ago, as it seems to be an issue almstatue-of-liberty-568688_640ost inevitably addressed every time one discusses the significance of capitalism. Almost perfectly following orthodox Marxian theory of history, people declare that whatever arguments one might make in favor of (classical) liberalism, they are of minor relevance only as the Age of Capitalism has surely passed. There were times when one could get along with it (die-hard Marxians might say: when it was necessary for the final evolution towards communism), but nowadays? As a matter of fact, it is too simple a system to be truly applicable to modern circumstances. The world grew complex, and will definitely continue to do so, which makes it easy to see that straightforward property rules and an anarchic production structure with no one directing it at a meta-level, have become insufficient and therefore obsolete. (more…)

Statue of Justice in Bruges, Belgium. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts.

Statue of Justice in Bruges, Belgium. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts.

The State is a creative monster. Always justifying their policies in the name of a “higher good,” politicians are eager to find and implement new policies that limit economic and social freedom. With many unintended costs, these policies are as dangerous as they are immoral.

In democracies throughout history the government has found countless ways of enforcing certain views and ideologies on those who have voted them into office. Very often their voters accept another dose of bondage, covered with the sweet promises of a better future. The number of tools available to those in power to “shape” or “steer” a society and its economy are manifold.

It is common practice for governments to provide subsidies to childcare. For example, in my native UK there is an entitlement to 15 hours of free childcare each week (and there is pressure to increase this further). In this article, I shall demonstrate that these subsidies are unjustified and ought to be abolishedbaby-20607_640 (1).

The basic case against childcare subsidies is very familiar and very simple: they cost money, money which is extracted from taxpayers, if not at gunpoint, at least with the implicit threat of violence if people refuse to pay. In any other context we would call this extraction of money “theft” and demand an end to it, so you need a very good reason as to why it should be permitted in this case.

A second reason against these subsidies is that they are anti-egalitarian. (Many libertarians are hostile to government efforts to promote equality, but perhaps we can agree that if something is anti-egalitarian then this is an extra reason for the government not to do it?) Higher earners make more use of childcare, as we would tend to expect since they would forgo higher wages by staying at home. The payment to an individual high earner may not be any larger than the payment to an individual earner, but if more high earners make use of the childcare subsidy then the anti-egalitarian effects will still occur.

Third, if you believe that being put into childcare is bad for children in the long-term, then you have a very good reason not to want the government to subsidise it. (NB. I hold no position on whether childcare actually is bad for children. It is merely the case that this claim has been made, and that if true would provide an additional argument against subsidising childcare).

With these in mind, what might one offer as a justification for childcare subsidies? The crudest argument, one that would never even be made let alone taken seriously were we discussing anything other than politics, is that “childcare is too expensive for most working parents”. I can’t afford to live in Schloss Neuschwanstein, but this hardly justifies any government in paying for me to have this privilege. Things have prices because they cost resources, and we could be using those resources for other purposes. Government can’t just make the costs of something magically disappear.

With that said, it is worth noting that one of the key reasons for childcare being expensive is government intervention in the market. Looking after children is not skilled labour, but occupational licensing makes it much harder for new people to enter the market on the supply side while strict regulations raise the costs for those who are already in the business. Indeed, subsidies such as those I decry in this article will also raise the price of childcare by raising the effective level of demand.

The next justification for childcare is that it is seen as a way of helping low-income families. However, this raises an important question: if you want to help these families, why would you insist that any help to them be in the form of free childcare? This policy is not only precisely targeted to avoid helping the very poorest – that is, the unemployed – but it ignores the fact that many people gain great pleasure from looking after and raising their children. Focusing upon wages and ignoring happiness is crass and materialistic.

Even so, perhaps you think there are particular reasons why this help ought to be limited to working people, as a way of incentivising them to choose work over other activities. Further assumptions are still required to explain why one should prefer childcare subsidies rather than targeted wage subsidies (do people earning £100,000 a year really need further incentives to work?), and this implies a rather unpleasantly paternalistic attitude to the public.

One final reason which is sometimes given as a justification for government subsidies to childcare is as a way of promoting gender equality. Historically, married women have tended to stay at home to look after the house and children while men have gone off to work and even now (the story would say) cultural factors mean that men go out to work and women stay at home, despite women being just as qualified to be the main breadwinner. This violates sexual equality, and therefore the government needs to do something about it.

Even accepting all the premises of this argument, this hardly justifies subsidies to childcare. The presence of gender equality hardly discredits the one-parent-works, one-parent-stays-at-home model. If gender equality is such a problem then perhaps you might tax families in which the men work and the women stay at home to redistribute towards families which work the other way around until these types of family reach a more equitable ratio. This would be cheaper, less distortionary, and probably a lot more effective at actually achieving the goal of moving towards gender equality in parenting.

There are other arguments in favour of state intervention to subsidise or provide healthcare but these are the main ones, and none of them come close to justifying what they are supposed to.


exosflAs a follower of ESFL, you stand to benefit from the recent partnership between ESFL and EXOSPHERE, a learning and problem-solving community dedicated to raising a new generation of battle-ready entrepreneurs.

11211593_10204200408746074_1407456623_oExobase is a full day program for curious students and aspiring entrepreneurs to take the next step on their journey by gaining a better understanding about themselves and and an entrepreneurial view about the world.

Exobase is an intense process of introspection about your options, your calling, and your life, combined with the exploration of practical philosophies and tools to help you in taking your next steps. We invite you to be an active participant in the discussions about the most basic and important ideas defining your life and the world around you to apply new ideas and new perspectives to your individual situation.

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