Tonight is our monthly Mises Circle in Rockford. What is it? We get together at a local cafe to discuss political philosophy (the age old debate between minarchism and anarchism generally dominates that realm), economics, politics, or whatever we’re interested in. We’ve been doing it only since May, but I can’t imagine life without it. I look forward to our monthly debates, I had a blast down at Mises U looking for literature and books that our Mises Circle would like.
I think it is a success because we keep it very informal and fun. I don’t spend two hours lecturing people (I slip in a 5 minute lecture here and there) and everyone contributes to the conversation.
Why do I write this? Well, I think you ought to start a Mises Circle in your community. It isn’t a big deal, in fact, the less people the better. I mean, if you get more than 12 or 15 people, it is no longer a very effective circle. I’ve had to deliberately stop advertising it for fear we’d overrun the cafe. Someday I would like to have a Mises Circle every week on different days so that we have two different crowds and I can accommodate more, but that’s not very practical right now. At any rate, an informal and fun get-together called a “Mises Circle” is a fantastic way to network, learn, and challenge your mind. It is a great thing to invite friends to, it isn’t like a Tea Party which is non-partisan, but yet people connect it with the Republican Party. A disillusioned Obama-voter might very well come to a Mises Circle. In fact, I think that many Austrians and those of that bend have much in common with the average liberal. At our Mises Circles, we don’t talk about the Republicans, except only to bash them. Same goes with the Democrats. Most of our attendees see the distinction between R and D to be irrelevant, and this can open the door to others who are tired of party politics. Mises Circles are informative because you have people coming from all different backgrounds to share what they know and to tell about their experience. None of us can read every book or study every subject, but the Mises Circles are a great opportunity to learn about things you aren’t familiar with, from people who have spent the time researching it.
So, what should you do?
1) Pick a location. I’ve found that most people really don’t care where they meet, so I have to take the initiative and just find someone. The best place is somewhere that serves a full meal and also dessert, muffins, etc…for those who want to have dinner and for those who just want a little something to nibble on.
2) Find some people. Now, I suppose you could just randomly ask people off the street to attend, but I’ve never done it quite like that. I have contacts in the Tea Party and so forth, so that’s what helped me to build the attendance. So start asking friends about it and spread the word. Maybe send out some emails, or print up a flier to distribute. And if you get 5 people to come, that’s a great Mises Circle! Like I said, you can’t have too few people, unless it is just yourself, and then of course, you could grab your laptop, connect to the WiFi, and have a virtual Mises Circle.
3) Before your first Mises Circle you need to come up with a plan for the evening. I say evening because that is best for most working people, but maybe you’ll do Saturday mornings or something totally different. While the Mises Circle should be informal, it should not be chaotic. No one will come back if there’s no point to the evening and you just wandered around aimlessly. So you’ll want to have a specific topic to discuss (the history of the Austrian school, or the recent economic crisis, or, etc…) and let people know that you’re going to talk about this subject. There’s a fine line between letting people wander aimlessly and not letting them talk about things that interest them. So I figure, if we’re talking about something I didn’t plan on, and it appears that everyone is joining in and enjoying it, then that’s fine. If one or two people have steered the conversation away and are the only ones having fun, then get back to your original subject.
4) After your Mises Circle, follow it up with an email to everyone who attended or wanted to attend about what you talked about, and tie up any loose ends. For instance, I often volunteer at a Mises Circle to find the link to a PDF book, or find an article about a certain subject, and then I make sure to email everyone with that information after I get it. In this follow-up email, announce the date of the next Mises Circle so they can keep it in mind and put it on their calendar.
See…it isn’t that hard…it is a lot of fun, and a great way to spread the message of liberty–so go for it!