Tbilisi: The Anti-Socialist Tradition

Experience shows that socialism has failed wherever it has been tried, Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson, RNH Academic Director, maintained in a lecture at the Liberty International conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, 13 August 2022. The most plausible theory explaining the inevitable failure of socialism was, he added, that of the Austrian economists, Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich von Hayek. They had demonstrated the crucial role of knowledge in a dynamic, free economy where it is acquired through individual experiments and transmitted through the price mechanism. There are chapters on all three Austrians in Gissurarson’s recent book, Twenty-Four Conservative-Liberal Thinkers. There is also a chapter in the book on perhaps the most influential economist at the end of the twentieth century, Milton Friedman, and the economic reforms he inspired in countries as different as Great Britain, Chile, New Zealand, Iceland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Gissurarson also expressed his admiration for the successful comprehensive economic reforms implemented in Georgia in 2004–2012, under the leadership of President Mikheil Saakashvili and Economics Minister Kakha Bendukidze.

Gissurarson emphasised that even if historically freedom could be seen as the product of a long tradition of mutual adjustments in the Anglo-Saxon countries, in principle every human being was fit for freedom, in Mongolia as well as Massachusetts. The conservative-liberal political tradition he described in his book rested on four pillars, private property, free trade, limited government, and respect for traditions. It had developed out of the classical liberalism of John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith, as a response first to the Jacobin Revolution, and then to the Bolshevik Revolution. Edmund Burke, Benjamin Constant, and Alexis de Tocqueville had presented cogent arguments against the Jacobins, and the Austrian economists against the Bolsheviks. Gissurarson also pointed out that there was a strong conservative-liberal or non-socialist political tradition in the Nordic countries, articulated in particular by Snorri Sturluson, Anders Chydenius and Nikolai Grundtvig. The success of the Nordic countries was despite, and not because of, social democracy.

Gissurarson Slides Tbilisi August 2022

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