I was unable to attend the first day of the International Students for Liberty Conference 2017. Instead I woke up at 5am to get here by 9am for a full day of breakout sessions, talking to different organizations in the exhibition hall, and seeing some of my friends at the Libertarian Party booth.
Though it seemed to lack the number and level of speakers as last year, the sessions did not disappoint and still had some of my favorites.
Unfortunately, Ralph Steadman’s session was cancelled. I was looking forward to hearing the Gonzo artist speak and possibly meeting him. I have always loved his style and enjoyed his work along with Hunter S. Thompson’s.
Since that fell through, I decided to go see one of my favorite libertarians of all time speak, Jeffrey Tucker. He, Steve Horwitz, and Sarah Skwire were speaking on “The Uniqueness of the Liberal Vision”. Of course, they mean liberal in the classical sense, not the bastardization that the word has come to mean in today’s society. As always Jeffrey Tucker and Steve Horwitz were entertaining to hear speak and I always enjoy their insightful comments. Sarah Skwire also brought a unique aspect to the conversation which added a lot.
I then was able to attend Adam Bates and Matthew Feeney of Cato speak on “Privacy in the Age of High-Tech Police Tools”. They covered various technologies that the government uses to spy on it’s citizens and the legal battles and ramifications that followed. Even though it was a grim subject, Bates and Feeney were really enjoyable and insightful. It just amazes me, not in a good way, about how much of our lives are monitored and how far the government goes to do so. It’s just a reminder that we need to be mindful of the government’s capabilities and continue to fight, whether it’s in court or using technology to stay a step ahead. I just watched Snowden a couple weeks ago, so now I’m even more paranoid.
Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of CrossFit, also attended and spoke. It was a really interesting and entertaining speech. Glassman does not mince words or hold back. He talked on his battle with the establishment (government, corporate interests, etc), the joy of positively affecting people’s lives, and about he being a libertarian.
My final sessions was Matt Kibbe’s “Beer is Freedom”. Kibbe talked about how beer, specifically craft beer, represents freedom. He went through the history of craft beer and it’s battle to become legal, how craft beer represents the choices that a free market allows and thus improves quality, and so on. I have always enjoyed listening to Matt Kibbe as he is a great story teller. He has a knack to humanize liberty and bring it to the masses without the dogmatic tribal speak that infects many of us within the libertarian movement.
After my final session, I decided to hit the exhibitor hall and speak to some organizations (and get free swag and books, duh). I enjoyed speaking to all the organizations that I was able to; loved finding out what exactly they do and to see that people are taking initiative to move the libertarian movement forward in all aspects. My favorite organization that I never heard of before was Pressing the Button. PTB is a website that provides real life examples of alternatives to government services. Their name comes from the “Rothbard button”. If you are not familiar with the “Rothbard button”, it is a question posed to libertarians asking whether they would push the button, which would end the state immediately. This is a great resource for libertarians to see real world solutions to the questions that we receive from non-libertarian people wondering how that service will ever exist without government. Definitely go check out the website as it’s a great resource: http://www.pressingthebutton.com/
And of course I hung out at the Libertarian Party booth for some time and spoke to some friends within the party. Do I sense another campaign in the near future? Time will tell!
This is my second ISFLC, last year being my first. ISFLC is a great event that I plan to continue attending into the future. I just wish I had attended earlier. Being a libertarian can be lonely, but it’s always nice getting together with like minded people and seeing that they exist outside of the online sphere. Students for Liberty does a great service for furthering liberty on college campuses, and beyond. Here is to another 10 years.