Congratulations to the Mises Institute of Canada and its director, Redmond Weissenberger, for hosting the first Toronto Austrian Scholars Conference at the University of Toronto this past weekend, November 9-10. The conference included four sessions comprising fourteen papers, a talk on financial markets by Kel Kelley, and a keynote speech by yours truly. The conference marked the 100th and 50th anniversaries of the publication, respectively, of Ludwig von Mises’s Theory of Money and Credit and Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State. In keeping with the conference theme, my speech compared Milton Friedman’s interpretations and predictions of the events leading up to the Financial Crisis with those of proponents of the Austrian theory of the business cycle, which was first outlined in Mises’s book and given its modern formulation in Rothbard’s treatise.
The conference was well attended, drawing 60 or 70 people, and the papers were top notch. I will briefly note several papers here.
Professor Andrius Valevicius of Sherbrooke University presented a provocative paper arguing that Genghis Khan’s successful empire building lay in his introduction of low taxes, stamping out of torture, and promotion of religious toleration and diversity and free scholarly inquiry in the conquered territories. The Great Khan also restricted his plundering to the wealth and property of the vanquished ruling elites while leaving their subjects generally unmolested in their persons and property and even distributing some of the plunder among them.
Moin Yahya, a Law professor at the University of Alberta, the academic home of the late Ronald Hamowy, discussed Lysander Spooner and the enduring lessons of his work for contemporary libertarians and anarchocapitalists. J. Huston McCulloch, an outstanding monetary theorist and economics professor at Ohio State University, formulated an original argument supporting a remark by Mises that, contrary to Marx, the Hegelian dialectic is inherently mystical and therefore inconsistent with a purely materialist view of social phenomena. Professor Glenn Fox of the University of Guelph gave a paper that nicely elucidated Carl Menger”s sometimes murky approach to methodology. Finally, I might mention an important paper presented by Professor Pierre Desrochers of University of Toronto (co-authored by Professor Colleen Haight of San Jose State University) that demonstrated how entrepreneurs operating in a free market economy, when left to their own devices, have been routinely transforming industrial pollutants into valuable products since the Industrial Revolution.
Videos of some of the presentations can be viewed here.