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Report from Prague: Austrian Scholars Gather in "the Spirit of Mises University"

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From 20 to 22 April, a group of young scholars from all across Europe convened at the CEVRO Institute in Prague for the Second Austrian Economics Meeting Europe (AEME). Founded in 2014 at Mises University, and in the spirit of it, the AEME is an organisation that seeks to once a year bring young European students and researchers in the Austrian tradition together for academic discussions. As such, participants present their current research and comment upon the research of their peers during the day, and spend the evenings engaging in cultural activities to get to know each other better and continue discussing in a more informal atmosphere.

This year, the meeting began by attending a concert of Postmodern Jukebox, who stopped by Prague on their sold-out European tour. A group of talented young musicians, they made an impression across the globe with their covers of modern pop songs in a style hawking back to the earlier decades of the twentieth century, and have reached popularity mostly through their internet presence and word of mouth. In a time where pop culture is still dominated by large corporations with extensive advertising budgets, and “true artists” are calling for government subsidies for their contributions to the cultural heritage, this event was a nice reminder of how culture can also thrive through decentralisation and voluntary cooperation on the market and online.

The next day, the academic part of the meeting began at the CEVRO Institute, which was kind enough to provide us with a room for the two days of our meeting. To start it off, Tomáš Nikodym provided an excellent introduction into the history of liberalism in the Czech lands until the take-over of the Communists in 1948. His intensive research on the matter, revealed to us the many connections between Prague and the Austrian School. Thus instilling the idea of the normality of what could be called 'Austrian' thought nowadays.

Other talks covered the competition of social orders (Sascha Klocke), consensus-based institutions (Brice Rothschild), praxeology and the understanding of culture (Willem Cornax), essentialist positions in the Austrian tradition (Lukáš Nikodym), and the life and thought of the last liberal of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, Antonín Basch (Tomáš Nikodym). One academic highlight of the meeting was the closing talk by Tomas Kristofory, who gave an overview of his PhD research on Religious Evolution: Hayek's last argument in the Socialist Calculation Debate, and who spent the last two years travelling to archives around the world to study over a hundred of Hayek's lesser known and slightly forgotten essays.

Discussions were not only limited to the academic sessions, but continued throughout the days and nights, be it on strolls through the sunny Old Town of Prague, or while enjoying traditional Czech food in one of the many charming pubs across town. The breadth and depths of the discussions, both formal and informal, showed once again that the Austrian tradition is not only very much alive in Europe, but indeed of growing interest to young academics. This interest is not only limited to economists in the narrow sense, but, as demonstrated by the variety of academic backgrounds of the attendees, stretches across fields as diverse as economics, law, history, archaeology, and African studies.

The high academic level of the debates and the cordial and open atmosphere in which they took place made this year's meeting again a unique experience in the broader field of Austrian and libertarian meetings on the continent. It is therefore a pleasure to announce that the next meeting will take place in spring 2017 in Krakow, Poland. You are invited to visit the website of the AEME (http://www.aem-europe.com/) to find abstracts, papers, and pictures of the previous meetings, as well as a possibility to sign up for more informations concerning the next meeting in Krakow.

Willem Cornax studied Law at Leiden University where he wrote his thesis on new EU taxes from the perspective of the Austrian School. He lives in the Netherlands and is an alumnus of Mises University.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
Image source:
Prague/Michael Levine-Clark www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
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