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Klaus: West is, disappointingly, returning to socialism and etatism

The Mont Pelerin Society was founded in 1947 by free-market luminaries Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper, Ludwig von Mises, George Stigler, and Milton Friedman, among others. Its 2012 General Meeting took place at the Prague Castle between last Sunday and today.

Czech president Václav Klaus gave the following speech:

We Are Not on the Winning Side, by V.K.

I already had a chance to say earlier this week how pleased I am and we all are to host the Mont Pelerin Society General Meeting here in Prague. I hope you have been enjoying your stay.

More then 20 years ago, two years after the fall of communism in this country and this part of the world, we had here the MPS Regional Meeting, in which some of you participated. At that time, we were in the crucial moments of our radical transition from communism to free society which was in many respects based on the ideas connected with the Mont Pelerin Society. This meeting gave us important moral support and helped us in our efforts to get rid of the past and to build a free society in a MPS sense.

Since then, we have succeeded in changing the country substantially in this direction. As you may see, the Czech Republic has made a visible step forward. Yet, it would be inappropriate to declare victory.

For someone like me, who after the fall of communism actively participated in preparing and organizing radical political and economic changes, the world we live in now is a disappointment. We live in a far more socialist and etatist society than we had then imagined. After the promising beginning, we are in number of respects returning back to the era we used to live in in the past and which we had considered gone once and for all. Let me stress that I do not have in mind this country only but Europe and the whole Western world.

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Incidentally, there were apparently other fun talks at the meeting. For example, President Klaus was overseeing a talk by Spanish economist de Soto who gave the crispest available defense of the euro: it was the euro that finally forced Spain to make some serious pro-market (and anti-inflation) reforms, a valid point that surely has some counter-points, too. The most important counter-point is that the eurozone acts in both directions: it "Germanizes" PIGS but it also "piggifies" Germany.

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reader Shannon said...

Reality is the ennemy of beliefs... and of socialism utopies. I don't believe we are returning to socialism. I actually believe that it is the last hours of socialism. Reality is slowly but surely coming back to power.

reader AA said...

I am 100 % for freedom. But sadly, one can not be free and ignorant at the same time. That is not possible.



reader Luboš Motl said...

That's a curious comment when it comes exactly from you, an Alex who is both free and ignorant.

reader Luboš Motl said...

The four greatest enemies of socialism and its plans for a glorious future are spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

reader Gene said...

Now, that’s funny!

reader Ann said...

I hope you are right, Shannon! It's discouraging in US to see how anti-free enterprise the Dems/libs are in this country, compared to even 10 years ago. They want central planning -- they believe a handful of smart guys can just pull the right levers and make things work, and that unfettered individual creativity will create wealthy people who prey on lesser victims. It's a damaging, unfounded, nasty philosophy, but I'm amazed how many people I know seem to believe this. Obama regrets his 'syntax' of 'you didn't build this' but it's the meaning that is his problem. The wealth creators pay TAXES that permit the government to build whatever infrastructures it manages to build, we don't owe the government any gratitude. The 2012 dem platform stands for collectivism not individual liberty, yet all those 'folks' (Obama loves that word) are enjoying the fruits of innovators viz a viz their ipads, iphones, tweets, etc.. Then they blindly believe bankers on the rampage caused 08 financial crisis -- they never consider the huge role the federal government played there with pressuring them to sell mortgages to unqualified people via Freddie/Fannie Mae. It's mind-boggling to listen to their 'narrative'. Okay, got my rant out -- I do so hope your perception of things is right -- world will be a freer, more prosperous place for all, if so.

reader Shannon said...

Do you wear a T-shirt "100% for freedom" Alex ? That would suit you ;-)

reader Vladimir Kalnizky said...

The Czech Republic is extraordinarily fortunate to have this man as president.

reader biff33 said...

What is needed is a moral defense of capitalism. That is what’s been missing, as can be seen from President Klaus’s history of the recent decades.

Economics is not enough. Praising freedom is not enough -- since intellectuals see freedom as allowing the businessmen animals out of their cages, to feast on the rest of the population.

As long as profit -- i.e., self-interest -- is seen as immoral, socialism will continue to win. But what exactly is the moral justification of freedom?

reader Smoking Frog said...

Alex - So what? Don't you have any people in particular in mind as ignorant?

BTW, I think you're paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Lubos - Not if he doesn't exist. :-)

reader Shannon said...

Dear Ann, I know the feeling :-). French people have elected the most stupid, simpleton, idiot, retarded socialist president who happily believes in his own lies. Today the people have lower their sight with this government which is reaching an unprecedented drop in his popularity rate. All of a sudden they seem to get the wake up call and realise that these socialist ideas are not sustainable, they are from the past... and that this government broke into power with lies and denial.

reader Shannon said...

So true... and its extreme communism can't bear nature, it suffocates them.

reader Shannon said...

Actually I'd see you better with the sentence "Blessed me in spirit for mine is the kingdom of heaven"

reader AA said...

Luboš, it not *me* who ignores climate change and resourse limits... cheers, Alex

reader Luboš Motl said...

That's one of the reasons why you are ignorant because people who are not ignorant *do* ignore this silly propaganda for the ignorant ones.

reader Mike Hodges said...
Interesting take on it via Peter Schiff at the DNC

reader Shannon said...

Wow, that's impressive Mike ! It is the first time I see American communists.. they are so clumsy :-D

reader cynholt said...

I am only for outlawing corporate profits when the corporation in
question is only still in existence as a result of government
intervention, i.e, Goldman Sachs, AIG, JP Morgan. The planet has finally
aligned in a way to rid the world of these parasitic sociopaths and my
government had to jump in and save them using my hard-earned money.

There are two types of profit: legitimately earned and ill-gotten.

The problem with America's economy is that bigger employers get most of their profits by ill-gotten gains.

Defense contractors use propaganda to put fear in the people about
terrorism to score government contracts (whose workers are on the take).
Big banks and investment houses commit massive amounts of fraud in
housing and the stock market to get taxpayer bailouts. Multinationals
use slave labor in Indonesia and China while destroying their
environment, and not paying workers back at home while abusing the laws
in a kleptocratic corporate welfare state.

Not all profit is beneficial. If that was the case, heroin drug
sales would go towards the GDP (it might via the CIA and Afghanistan).

reader MIke H said...

Of course, little do they realize, their 401ks, pensions, etc. are vested in the very companies they hate and are dependent on them making profits. Complete idjiots. The lot of them. Yes, the economic ignorance of some people is astounding.

reader Shannon said...

Biting the hand that's feeding them. Complete eejits as they say in Ireland :)

reader Gene said...

Is this on video?

reader Eugene S said...

Off-topic... have a relative who is in a vegetative state, unresponsive to external stimuli? Make them watch this video and enjoy the sight of them springing back to life, powered by a healthy, incandescent rage at the Orwellian creepiness of our Euro overlords. Just make sure there are no pitchforks, explosives or AK-47s nearby.

"Comments are disabled for this video". Gee, I wonder why?

reader wrothbard said...

The best story regarding the Mont Pelerin society is best summed up in this Ludwig Von Mises meme: