The Free Market Road Show in Tirana featured four speakers: Craig Biddle of The Objective Standard, Martin Gundinger of the Austrian Economics Center, Mitja Steinbacher of the Faculty of Law and Business Studies and Rainer Zitelmann, Author.
Based on Ayn Rand, Craig Biddle argued that rights don’t come from God, government, and nature. They are a need that comes from the nature of human beings. This nature is using rationality as a means of living. That implies the need for a right to act on our judgment, free of coercion. Using coercion means stopping people from living fully as human beings. Rights, he argued, are recognitions of a fact of reality. His main message was: If libertarians want to succeed in the battle of ideas and rights, they must know what rights are, where they come from, and how we know them.
Martin Gundinger called the strategies of most governments in response to the coronavirus “stubbornly stupid, “arguing that it’s not a bright idea to make the citizens into prisoners, even temporarily. Also, he found it quite surprising that there was almost no competition of different approaches in dealing with the coronavirus. He added that none of us know what to do, also in regards to – for example – vaccinations, which is why people must stay humble and not force their opinion on others. On the Ukraine war, he said that we ought to be careful not to extensively punish individual Russians who might oppose the war for the actions of their government.
Mitja Steinbacher said that the Covid restrictions stopped economic activity and trade in many parts of the economy. That, among other things, disrupted the movement of goods. However, because of a lack of good data, it is hard to estimate the damage the restrictions have done. We still have to wait and hope for good data to be able to do these estimations. On the Ukraine war, he mentioned that aside from being a human tragedy, this is also an economic tragedy. He added that this would not only hit the Ukrainian economy. Still, it will have direct and indirect effects on the whole world, with the collapse of food production being a huge issue.
Rainer Zitelmann presented his poll data on the image of capitalism. The attitudes towards economic freedom in the countries polled differed a lot: While the population in Poland, the USA, Czech Republic, South Korea, Japan, and Sweden mostly supported economic freedom, the people in Austria, Italy, Chile, Spain, France and Russia rejected economic freedom. The order stays mostly the same when it comes to attitudes toward capitalism. The approval for capitalism grew in most countries when the word capitalism was not used, with Chile and Russia being the exception. Also, the data showed that Anti-capitalist people are more prone to conspiracy theories.
This was followed by an overview of the situation in Albania by Adri Nurellari, who said there is communist nostalgia in people’s attitudes. A fascinating discussion unfolded, focusing on many topics like Covid and responsibility, democracy, vote buying and corruption, brain drain, media influence, social media, the relationship between politics and media, as well as conformity.