The following is from Dan Klein.
I recently participated in a week seminar in the Czech Republic, “European and American Liberalism,” organized by the leaders of Liberal Institute and the Prague University Economics program.
Really remarkable. I know about the scenes in the US, UK, and Sweden. It is different in CZ:
1) The vital liberal economists are the drivers of the Prague University Economics programs, the largest in the country. Along with Charles University, the Prague University programs are the most prestigious in the country. To analogize to Sweden, it is as if vital liberal economists led the Stockholm School of Economics. The largest PhD-granting institution in CZ is principally liberal. (They have three PhD programs, econ, econ policy, and regional econ and public admin.)
2) There is much productive collaboration between the Prague University department people and the Liberal Institute, a leading think tank, also in Prague.
3) Many top public officials in CZ support the activities of both organizations, including the current President and former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. The liberal scholars are mixing regularly with top politicians and policymakers. As always, the liberal thinkers are disappointed with policymaking, but the conversation between scholars and politicos is alive and well. And the bonds help to ensure that the institutions are shielded from political assault and disruption.
4) In CZ, liberal still means liberal. True, many think that liberalism is the system extant following the liberal reform period of the early 1990s, a very mixed system, and any problems with the supposedly “liberal system” are ignorantly blamed on liberalism. There is confusion. But the liberals are the liberals—not “libertarians,” “conservatives,” “neoliberals,” etc. People misunderstand liberalism, but at least genuine liberalism is called liberalism. Even in the public culture. That was the most exhilarating thing for me.
5) The Liberal Institute/Prague University people are strong liberals. Libertarians, in our setting.
Really very exciting. About 35 students, excellent and motivated. The chief organizer of the seminar, and active editor and translator, and chairman of Institutional Economics department is Josef Šíma. Also vital is Jiří Schwarz, founder of the Liberal Institute, Dean of the School of Economics and Public Administraation and Chairman of Economics Department at Prague University. Other fine guys who lectured at the program: Dan Šťastný, David Lipka, and Jan Havel. They delivered their lectures in Czech, so I had a lot of free time.
Ed Stringham made a cameo, and a nice lecture on private dispute resolution and security. During it, I realized why the topic is so often mixed with anarchy: Because the logic tends to call for the owner of the locus of dispute to provide the fallback rules for arbitration in the event of dispute, and if the locus is owned by government—a school, a park, a street, a bus station—then you haven’t gotten to the private nexus of resolution. Still, the topic need not be bundled with anarchy, a point Ed agreed with.
The major lectures of the program are shown below.
European and American Liberalism
Liberal Institute Summer University 2007
1–7 July 2007, Jindřichův Hradec, CZ
Josef Šíma: European and American liberalism
David Lipka: Liberalism a socialism – a battle of ideologies over the centuries
Dan Šťastný: Free trade
Josef Šíma: Globalization and its Challenges
Charlotta Stern: Groupthink in Academia
Josef Šíma: On the Right to Discriminate
Jan Havel: Money and the Market
Josef Šíma: Economics, law and the Environment
Dan Klein: The Demand for and Supply of Assurance
Edward Stringham: Is Government Necessary?
David Lipka: Karl Marx
Dan Klein: The Hayekian Narrative: The Epic Tale of Statism vs. (True) Liberalism
Josef Šíma: The Limits of Liberalism