Smiling in Bodrum
"Why are you smiling?"
My friend asked me this as our van accelerated away on our departure from Bodrum, Turkey.
I was unable to answer him, frankly, because I had stopped noticing. I guess I had been smiling permanently since my arrival at the Property and Freedom Society conference six days earlier.
Last year, my dear friend and blogger-colleague, Andy Duncan, wrote an excellent article entitled "A Few Days Outside the Asylum". This beautifully summarized how wonderful and special the annual PFS Conference becomes to its attendees. Andy is a far better writer than I am and everyone would be served to read (or re-read) his wonderful article, which you can find here.
Why would anyone want to travel to Turkey and endure such cost and trouble, just to hear a few days of lectures that will be posted for free viewing on the Internet, anyway?
Ah, but that is only one of the pearls of distributed wisdom that one receives in Bodrum.
In my sphere of interest, it is truly awesome to be able in the same day to hear lectures by up to four of the foremost geo-political or monetary scholars of our time. And for those of you who have yet to do so, I highly recommend you follow these links to great books by Professor Guido Hulsmann, Professor Joe Salerno and important articles by Thorsten Polleit, plus an expert on banking, Doug French. Read the works by these four gentlemen and listen to their interviews at RadioFreeMarket.com (here, here, here and here). I believe you will be truly enlightened.
But in Bodrum, it gets even better.
At the PFS conference, you can walk up to these luminaries and ask them a question either during a session, over a coffee, through a meal, or maybe even while on a bus ride.
It is kind of like being able to walk through an art museum and then have drinks with the best artists on display.
Or you might find yourself chatting with Jeffrey Tucker, Executive Editor of Laissez Faire Books, and getting insights you never even imagined.
Or, you might find yourself watching dancers and musicians with the really big dog at the conference, Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the works of whom EVERYONE should read as a gift to those they most deeply care for.
Dr. Hoppe and his lovely and gifted wife Gulcin, host this event and go to enormous lengths to make it the most extraordinary experience, where very serious people get together, to learn, share and just have fun. They make PFS attendance a membership that everyone should be clamoring to obtain.
Yet very few do, or even can.
You see, PFS is an unabashed celebration of exclusivity. You must be invited to attend and you quickly notice that you are surrounded by self-empowered people. All around you are those who celebrate -- and deeply value -- a practical world of peaceful cooperation and mutual benefaction.
This crowd of a mere 100 souls or so, is unashamed to want less or even zero government, to want an environment where personal responsibility -- in all of its forms -- is both valued and displayed.
Dr. Anthony Daniel's hilarious, yet sobering, lecture on "Choices without Consequences" bitingly hit home. It outlined the severe social cost of the widespread syndrome of Free Lunches demanded by those legions of leeches and parasites who would succor on the blood of the people who produce and increase value in the world.
Ahh, but in the air of Bodrum, even that sobering reminder is sloughed off as easily as remembering last year's bad snow storm, while sitting by a pool under a palm tree.
There were those who -- since the previous year we had been together -- demonstrated their personal responsibility in very big and obvious ways, having changed professions, started companies, and even renounced citizenships. Others had got a new grip on their personal lives, dropped bad diets, lost weight, and looked good.
This may sound trivial, but it's also evident in what you fail to see and hear at PFS; you never see people sitting around and complaining about their life.
Instead, you look around and see what a world of self-empowered people would look like.
It's beyond philosophical, it's practical. Real life has real consequences. Choices matter.
This personal responsibility exhibited by so many in Bodrum extends outwards from their personal lives. Many -- maybe even most -- of the PFS attendees have decided to spend their time and treasure in the promotion of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom in various ways.
There are now small think-tanks and action-tanks in Sweden, Estonia, Brazil, Hong Kong and Australia, all of them focused on Austrian Economics. There is even a 12-person Mises.org-friendly think-tank in Lithuania that is very active and making big progress in that country.
From Vienna, Zurich, Munich and London there are individuals and small groups who blog, teach Austrian Economics, promote sound money policies and -- in a dozen different ways -- stand up for freedom, sanity, and common sense.
The real value of PFS is how these souls demonstrate by example what a more peaceful, prosperous, and more personally empowered community would actually look like.
It's little wonder why people go to great lengths to petition for PFS membership.
And it's little wonder at all why I was on that van ride, as I still am today, grinning from ear to fortunate ear.