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Lithuanian statisticians have reported that on the average every Lithuanian drinks 14,3 liters (WHO 2014) of pure alcohol per year, so that we can proudly say that we are among the heaviest drinking countries in the world. The Lithuanian government takes many measures to reduce our high alcohol consumption, such as restrictions on times and places where you can buy and sell alcohol, minimum ages to buy alcohol, and advertising restrictions.

But there’s a problem with the assumption that these policies are based on: to take an average number provides very little information about reality. The truth is probably that while some of us might consume 30 liters, others only have a consumption level of one liter per month, therefore merely using the average does not reflect the real situation.

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In just two months time, on March 17-19, leaders of the next generation will gather in Prague for a weekend-long exploration of the sharing economy, the principles of liberty and free enterprise, and their potentials for human freedom in the future known as LibertyCon.

LibertyCon will take place on March 17-19 , 2017 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Formerly the European Students For Liberty Conference, this event will be like none other before it.

Over a thousand young dedicated pro-liberty activists from across the European continent will leave their home countries to rub shoulders with the top academics, intellectuals, speakers, business leaders, and campaigners dedicated to upholding the principles of a free society.

More than that, the event will attract Europe’s top freedom activists all leading individual campaigns and efforts in their home countries for greater individual freedom, less government, and making real change.

Whether it’s the student leaders in France praising and defending platforms such as Uber and Heetch of the sharing economy, or quoting Frédéric Bastiat in major national media, or our student activists in Montenegro forming one of the strongest civil society groups in the country, enough to influence government decisions in favor of liberty, these are the young people who will be the influential changemakers of their day. And they’ve only begun.

European Students For Liberty National Coordinator for France, Christophe Selzter on BFMTV.

It’s these same French students who have reawakened France to the tradition of classical liberalism, whether cited in Germany’s largest newspaper as a force to be reckoned with, or broadcast on French radio to millions as top news hits of the day. One wonders why classical liberalism is making a comeback  in the French presidential contest.

In the Republic of Georgia, activists have gone a step further, hosting the largest ever marijuana legalization rally known as the June 2nd movement with tens of thousands of supporters from across Georgian society. They’ve even been so bold as to commit civil disobedience by planting a cannabis plant in the parliament on national television.

Georgian SFL activists hold up signs from the "Do Not Arrest" rally.

Georgian SFL activists hold up signs from the “Do Not Arrest” rally.

The same is brewing in Spain, where Students For Liberty local coordinators and group leaders are hosting the conversation on the necessary reforms to make Spain competitive again, whether in dozens of campus events or national conferences with close to 500 top activists present. Their media outreach has been incredible.

That’s the genesis of LibertyCon, the culmination of the tireless effort undertaken by hundreds of activists and trained leaders from European Students For Liberty.

The gathering is no longer about casually uniting classical liberal and libertarian students under a single banner. Now, it’s a movement. A popular movement. A movement that has takes roots in many different countries, has many different flavors and dialects, but speaks the very same language of liberty.

With such a gravity for affecting positive change in their countries, the leaders and attendees at LibertyCon are some of the most promising young people this continent has produced. This conference is the next step in their evolution to success and influence. That’s why LibertyCon is the most important youth event in Europe for students.

islam-lf-rematch-2

In this first Liberty Face Off of 2017, our co-editor Bill Wirtz and contributor Daniil Gorbatenko continue their discussion on the topic of Islam and liberty in a special Liberty Face Off Rematch! Previously on the ESFL Blog, they debated the question whether Islam is inherently a threat to liberty. Today they respond to each others statements in that discussion. 

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Denmark boat

Photo by Susan Yin

Despite Bernie Sanders’ efforts to identify Denmark with some sort of democratic socialist utopia where a highly-interventionist government regulates all the nooks and crannies of the economy, it is well known nowadays that the success of this Scandinavian country is closely linked to its high degree of economic freedom. We just need to look at the latest Index of Economic Freedom, published every year by the Heritage Foundation, to state the obvious: Denmark ranks in the top 15 worldwide.

When looking more closely, Denmark excels at two specific economic indicators: business freedom and labor freedom. Business freedom measures the impact of government regulation on businesses. This indicator places Denmark at the top of the ranking, only behind Hong Kong. As for labor freedom, which examines the legal framework that regulates the labor market in a country, Denmark finds itself in the top 6. The strong correlation between labor freedom and low unemployment rates seems to explain why Denmark has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU. In the following lines, I aim to explore the specific characteristics that make the Danish labor market an example to follow in many ways.

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Photo by Thong Vo

Photo by Thong Vo

Governments worldwide crack down on the consumption of tobacco. We know that smoking is bad for one’s health, but governments manage to create a new set of health risks through their interventions. The War on Tobacco is amongst the most misguided doctrines in behavioral policy, and yet politicians continue to enforce it. The side effects on private industry as well as personal health have long been ignored by advocates for smoking-freedom. Nevertheless, these side effects exist.

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The first generation iPhone was released on June 29, 2007 and revolutionized the mobile industry for decades to come. In the third quarter alone, Apple, as a company that had never produced a firmware for a mobile, let alone a phone on its own[1], sold 270,000 phones and ended up bringing 6.1 million iPhones over the counter in just 6 quarters.

Far more amazing than Apple’s sales is how technology evolves, especially to someone who has no background in this what so ever. In fact, Apple considers the first generation iPhone ‘obsolete’ on a worldwide scale since 2013. Think about this: an invention that had revolutionized the entire mobile industry 6 years before is already ‘out of date’.

In 2007, this first-gen iPhone was so successful that Apple’s chances to take over the market were fairly realistic. There needed to be an alternative and for someone to provide it.

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Georgia weed plant

Photo by David Kvirkvelia.

The struggle for drug policy reform continued in Georgia on the last day of 2016: A few hours before New Year’s Eve, the leader of the Georgian libertarian party Girchi, Zurab Japaridze, along with several dozens of civil activists, has planted cannabis seeds live on-air.

Broadcasted on every major TV channel of Georgia, the action intends to draw attention to the initiative of the political party Girchi demanding decriminalization of all drugs and legalization of marijuana in Georgia.

At 9.30pm Girchi’s office was full of mass media representatives, cameramen, journalists, civil activists and supporters of the cause from all over the country. Zura Japaridze was the first one to violate the current drug law. He took a cup filled with soil and planted cannabis seed in it, then poured water over it, showing full awareness of the consequence, which implies imprisonment from 6 to 12 years.

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For the third time in a row, Georgian Students for Liberty has now organized an ESFL Regional Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia. Since 2014, the interest in this conference has grown among students who want to expand their knowledge of the ideas of liberty. This academic year, on October 22 2016, up to 500 open-minded students participated, making the Tbilisi Regional Conference the biggest ever, not only in the Caucasus region, but in all of Europe.

The conference took place at the third block of the National Parliamentary Library, which is a former office of the State Bank of Georgia. Recognized as a prominent architectural monument, it is one of the best among the modern style buildings that have survived in present-day Tbilisi.

We wanted to make the academic part of the conference as diverse as possible: The Tbilisi RC 2016 welcomed speakers from 7 different countries all around the world, who discussed topics such as privatization, surveillance, and regulations.

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School uniforms Cameroon

Source: Flickr

Education is a basic pillar for any society. It is the bedrock upon which a country builds its present and future prosperity; hence the importance that governments in developing countries provide free, basic education so that children do not fall behind due to lack of economic resources and see their opportunities to thrive expand, thereby abandoning the vicious circle of poverty. As obvious as this may sound, there is quite an unjustifiable logical jump between the undeniably-true premises and the questionable conclusion.

Economic growth has been historically accompanied by increasing literacy rates long before compulsory education was introduced by the public sector. For instance, by the time free, public education was established in England in 1870, the literacy rate was already greater than 70% thanks to philanthropy, Sunday schools and private schools among others. Some could argue, however, that this historical example cannot be extrapolated to our days. After all, government-provided education seems the only means whereby the lower classes in places like India or Nigeria can have access to quality education that enables new generations to reach higher standards of living than those endured by their parents. But is this so?

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Globe

Source: Flickr

Several months ago social psychologist Jonathan Haidt offered a very insightful and plausible explanation for the global rise of nationalism and authoritarianism. His analysis challenges globalist cosmopolitans with some frustration. If Haidt and Karen Stenner, whose book The Authoritarian Dynamic he refers to, are right Fukuyama-style optimism would have a hard time standing empirical evidence: “Her core finding is that authoritarianism is not a stable personality trait. It is rather a psychological predisposition to become intolerant when the person perceives a certain kind of threat.” This threat being a change in social structure and the overall cultural environment which gives people the impression of being overrun and a stranger in one’s own country. Stenner assesses also that people that respond with intolerance to such a situation get “more aggravated than educated by the cultural promotion of tolerance”. How much hope is there left for optimists who thought that “we shall overcome”?

Being no psychologist, no sociologist or anything of that sort I certainly would not challenge Haidt’s observations. Yet, his conclusions and recommendations ought to be contested. He suggests that globalists “speak, act, and legislate in ways that drain passions and votes away from nationalist parties”. The price for reaping “the gains of global cooperation in trade, culture, education, human rights, and environmental protection” would, however, be high: “It would require abandoning the multicultural approach to immigration and embracing assimilation.”

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