Review of Austrian Scholars Conference 2012

This was my first time attending ASC. Since I won’t be able to attend Mises U this year, I decided to try ASC instead. I really liked it. Why?

As appropriate for an Austrian Scholars Conference, it was more scholarly than Mises U. For instance, at almost every meal during the event, everyone at the table would end up talking about economics, philosophy, politics, etc…in some kind of serious way. I don’t remember this happening at Mises U, although maybe I just didn’t sit at the right tables. 🙂
I felt like I was getting the inside scoop on everything new happening in Austrian economics. On the first day, they had a specific panel for any Austrian scholars who have published a book or will be publishing a book in the next year to introduce their book and talk about it. This was really exciting. Seeing all the new work was so encouraging because it means the Austrian school isn’t only about the works of the older generations, but there are new contributions that relate to specific events going on now, or are elaborations on older works that needed to be expanded.
The attendees were of a more diverse background than at Mises U. Of course there were students but also a lot of adults from various professions and countries. I would say that around half the attendees were from the US and about half from other countries. That made it very interesting!

So what topics or speakers did I especially like?

Gerard Casey from Dublin talked about his forthcoming book, Libertarian Anarchy. It sounds very good and I am excited to get it later this year. Apparently he got tired of constantly answering all these objections to anarcho-capitalism and decided to compile all his answers into a book so he wouldn’t have to keep repeating his answers.
Hunter Lewis, author of Where Keynes Went Wrong, talked about crony-capitalism, why we should use the term, and how it relates to Keynesianism. He was a fantastic speaker and it was a fascinating lecture.
One panel discussed different literary works and how they relate to liberty: Walter Block on Atlas Shrugged, Paul Cantor on Wordsworth and his intense defense of copyright (to the point of even writing sonnets defending copyright), Jo Ann Cavallo on a couple somewhat obscure Renaissance Italian authors, and Roderick Long on three Prague authors (including Kafka). These were really interesting topics and I enjoyed them all.

I am not going to risk never posting this by waiting until I have added more to it, so although there were definitely other speakers and lectures I enjoyed, you will have to take my word for it right now 🙂

To recap, ASC was fantastic and I am really excited about going next year. It is more doable than taking an entire week off for Mises U. And I actually flew this time (for the first time!) which was quite fun (besides the TSA) and will probably make future trips easier. But…if you have not studied Austrian economics much yet, I would recommend either attending Mises U or taking some fundamental courses online. Even with two years of Mises U behind me, some of the lectures were completely confusing, and I know that more of them would have been over my head if I didn’t have the background and foundations down.

I will be attending the national Ligonier conference tomorrow through Saturday and flying home Sunday afternoon. I imagine my first week or two at home will be crazy, but hopefully after that I can add some more to this inadequate post about ASC 2012 🙂

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