The question is completely justified, so allow me to answer it.
It all started on a bus heading from Madrid to Salamanca. It was in October, 2009, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in connection with the Juan de Mariana institute of Madrid, had organized a conference in Salamanca, with the name "The Birthplace of Economic Theory". As Rothbard explained in his excellent 2 volume work "An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought", Salamanca in the 1400s and 1500s were famous for their scholastics, such as Juan de Mariana. The scholastics from Salamanca were among the first intellectuals to deal with economic problems, and they also happen to be the forerunners of the Austrian School. It was in Salamanca that the Austrian School, or in reality "economics", was born. 500 years or so after this "golden" period, Salamanca was once again to be the birthplace of something else, albeit something much, much smaller, and of a lot less importance. It was to be the birthpace of the Swedish Ludwig von Mises institute, something which would not have been possible without the encouragement and inspiration of Mr. Beltrao.
As a brief history, me, and my good friend Joakim Fagerström (referred to as the Swedish mafia by Mr. Beltrao by the way), had met at work a year or so earlier and had struck up a friendship. We were both
very interested in libertarian ideas and economics, and were eager to "do something", "to make a difference". We both felt that Sweden desperately needed it, and since Sweden's most famous libertarian blogger had gone off to work in the European Union (which he "lovingly" refers to as "the death star")
there was a vacuum the needed to be filled. It is said that nature abhorrs a vacuum, and so we both felt the drive toward accomplishing something in order to fill the void we felt existed.
In the beginning we had many ideas, and I can now, in hindsight, admit that they were all horrible and would have amounted to nothing. However, the idea of doing something stuck with us, and so on that day, on the bus from Madrid to Salamanca, in October 2009, we met Mr. Beltrao.
Joakim, myself, and another friend, sat chatting on the bus, one row in front of two brazilian people that we did not know, that were speaking a language we did not understand. They were Mr. Beltrao and Fernando Ulrich, who at the time was studying a masters in Austrian economics in Madrid, under Jesus
Huerta de Soto. We struck up a conversation with them, and it soon became clear that Mr. Beltrao was the founder of Mises Brazil. He started explaining to us what Mises Brazil did, how they did it, how they got started, and so on and we all listened instensely.
At some point I turned to Joakim and said that this was exactly what we should do in Sweden. The only problem was that we had absolutely no idea on how to get started, or how things should be done. Hell, was it even possible to just start a think thank? How would we even do it? So, we kindly asked Mr.
Beltrao and he gave us the best answer anyone could have given us:
He said, "Just do it!"
And yes, it really was that simple. Get started, be motivated, and figure out the rest as it unfolds. It was as thrilling as it was simple.
During the conference in Salamanca, which included among other things speakers such as Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Walter Block, and which was the place where I met my girlfriend, we had many more subsequent conversations, some more serious and some less serious. In these conversations a plan was developing. Not only did it seem plausible that we could do it. It seemed necessary. It was simply something that needed to be done, and that definitely could be done.
Upon returning to Sweden we got started right away. We started translating articles and designing a webpage, and approximately 4 months after the meeting in Salamanca, The Ludwig von Mises institute in Sweden, was launched.
The costs were low, the work had been done (and would need to be continously done), the time was right.
Our hopes were not very high. Bearing in mind that Sweden is a very small country, with a long socialist tradition (more or less 80 years of continous social democratic rule), and where even the right wing arguably can be considered to be more socialist than some socialists in other countries, the amount we had hoped to reach in terms of visitors where 40, maybe 50 people.
However, in only one month we had a more than a 100 unique individuals visiting our site, per day. This was more than we were expecting, and when the numbers continued to grow, although slowly, we felt inspired to carry on. So far, after more than a year in existence, we have accomplished, among other things:
- More than 150 articles, and countless blogposts, published
- A 4 part lecture series, 2 hours each, about economics held at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, named Econ101
- A seminar in front of the Finance Regulatory Committe, teaching them about banking and the monetary system
- A handful speeches given about liberty, economics and the environment
- Acquiring the manuscript and the right to publish Mises' "Economic Policy" (which I believe also was the first book published by Mises Brazil)
- Translating two other books, currently waiting to be published
- Acquiring rights to re-publish three old translations of books by Mises and Hazlitt
- Being part of organizing the very first Freedomfest in Sweden, which had almost 100 visitors
- and more...Before starting up we had many conversations with Mr. Jeffrey Tucker about this, and we were amazed by their open attitude and extreme generosity. They truly understood not just the power of ideas, but the importance of spreading them, and also doing this in a completely decentralized way. Of course, without this attitude we would not be were we are today, and on a global scale you can see that this attitude is really having an impact. When we started the swedish Mises institute there were maybe 5 other Mises institutes around the world, and today, 1.5 years later, there are almost 20! The austro-libertarian starfish is truly here to stay."
One thing that needs to be mentioned, before moving on, is that none of this would have been possible if it hadn't been for the totally open and generous policy of Mises institute, which allows anyone, anywhere, to use whatever material they publish.
As of now, we currently average around 200 and 300 unique visitors every day. It might not seem as much, but as Lew Rockwell once said, given the state of public opinion, "it is easy to make a big difference". I don't know if I would say that we are making a big difference, but we are definitely making a one.
Thanks to the continous inspiration, support and encouragement of Mr. Beltrao, the future for liberty in Sweden is looking up, and we look with great expectations on what will happen in the coming years. It is true that there might be tough times ahead, but that only makes our (you, me, everyone) work so much more important. As Hoppe says, history is ultimately determined by ideas, be they true or false, and ideas can, at least in principle, change almost immediately. That is why I can not understate the importance of having educated people about true ideas, of peaceful cooperation, of sound economic thinking, when things get bad.
As Mises so eloquently stated it,