4 November 2018
Biggest libertarian conference in the post-Soviet world
Adam Smith Forum is the main intellectual event of the year for freedom lovers in Russia. For the tenth time, noted representatives of social and economic sciences, publicists and activists gathered together to discuss the ideas of freedom, limited government, inequality, the rule of law, and civil society. Speakers raised urgent social, ethical and economic issues and offered an interesting perspective on contemporary and historical processes.

The Adam Smith Forum pursues two main goals. The first one is to disseminate the ideas of liberty and free markets among the fellow citizens. The second one is to provide the arena for the critical thinking and in-depth discussion of those ideas. At the Forum, the participants have a unique opportunity to learn from the noted social scientists, freedom advocates, and activists.

How did Europe become the richest part of the world? Do tolerance and political correctness kill freedom of speech? Is urbanism at all possible without government interventions and city planning? Where does libertarian paternalism of behavioral economics lead to? – All these questions and many more were brought up at the Forum.



By Mark Krivoshein
The conference program consisted of the following three sections:
1. "The Wealth of Nations" – the section on economics focusing on the role of private property and market institutions in economic development and human prosperity.
2. "Moral Sentiments" – the section on ethics focusing on the importance of individual liberties and freedom of cooperation for creativity, innovations, and foundation of strong civil society.
3. "Political Rhetoric" – the section on politics focusing on political systems and history of the opposition and libertarian movements.

In each section, speakers delivered brief 35-minute talks on their chosen topics. Each talk was followed by a 10-minute discussion when the audience was able to ask questions, give comments and provide additional perspectives on the discussed issue.

Morning. The queue for registration
All seats were occupied before the start of the conference
Rostislav Kapeliushnikov talks about behavioral economics

Natalia Zubarevich gives a lecture on regional inequality
Lawrence Reed – President of the Foundation for Economic Education
Vasily Topolev (Vatoadmin) with a lecture on how Europe became the richest part of the world
There were about 1500 attendees in general
Moderator of the ethical section Mikhail Pozharsky
Among the attendees - the press secretary of the Spring movement and the economist Farid Khusainov
Flemming Rose talks about the the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
Ekaterina Schulmann with a lecture on the transformation of social norms in Russian society
Vera Kichanova talks about market urbanism
By the end of the day, all the windowsills were also occupied.
Dmitry Ismagilov talks about normative Liberalism of J.M. Buchanan
Rick Wendler from Students For Liberty and his libertarian activism workshop
Coffee break
Director of the Adam Smith Center Andrey Shalnev delivers a closing speech
The Wealth of Nations
Rostislav Kapeliushnikov – economist, Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences, dedicated his speech to "Behavioral Economics and New Paternalism". He described the emergence of a new field of economic thought – behavioral economics and the nudge policy that proposes positive reinforcement and influence human decision making. He explained how people, without even realizing it, becoming the objects of manipulation and corrective actions by politicians who are pushing them to make the ""right rational decisions".

Natalia Zubarevich – an expert on regional economics, a professor at the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University gave a speech on the topic "The Risks of Regional Inequality: Why are They Exaggerated?" She emphasized that Russian weak regions regularly receive subsidies from the federal budget, but the life of people living there hasn't changed much. She talked about the competitive advantages of the regions and about an urgent need for systematic changes of Russian government institutions.

Vasily Topolev's speech "The Benefits of Greed" was dedicated to the reasons for the rise of the West. He reviewed various theories explaining the appearencу of the industrial revolution and rapid economic growth in Western Europe in the 18th century. Later he suggested that there was a huge impact of the greed Catholic Church that unintentionally promoted the development of a culture of individualism and the rule of law.
Moral Sentiments
Ekaterina Schulmann – political scientist, assistant professor at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) delivered her speech about the transformation of the values of Russian citizens. She talked about the request for distributive and procedural justice, about the public readiness for change and about the growth of social ties in Russian society.

Flemming Rose – Danish journalist, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and an international advocate for freedom of speech devoted his topic to "Freedom of Speech in a Globalized World - The Tyranny of Silence, Multiculturalism, and the Cartoon Controversy". He described the consequences of his decision to publish the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and told how did he feel being at the center of a global battle about the freedom of speech. With the audience he discussed the issues of tolerance, freedom of expression and censorship.

Dmitry Ismagilov – the Ph.D. student at Kings College London, an expert in the evolution of economic and political institutions. In his speech "Normative Liberalism of J.M. Buchanan and Justice of Reforms," he first addressed a question – what is a just way to choose between alternative options of proposed reforms? He later described the philosophy of J.M. Buchanan and the principle of personal freedom and the rule of unanimity as a valid decision rule for voting between alternative ways of organizing society.
Political Rhetoric
Vera Kichanova's lecture "Free-market Urbanism: a City Without Planning" was devoted to the "spontaneous order" in urban development. She explained how it is possible to arrange the urban environment without general planning, why it is important not to demolish the ugly kiosks and other "unauthorized constructions", and shared curious information about different private cities projects.

American economist, publicist, president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) Lawrence Reed's speech was named "Freeing the World, One Hero at a Time". He shared his personal view on the importance of optimistic attitudes and heroism and inspired the audience with some examples of people who could change the world because of their courage and perseverance.

Political scientist, popularizer of libertarian ideas in Russia, founder and author of political You-tube talk show SVTV, Mikhail Svetov devoted his speech to "The Secrets of Political Rethoric". Mikhail told about the skills of successful persuasion and shared his ideas on how libertarians can use populist rhetoric, based on feelings not on the logic and facts, in order to succeed in spreading the ideas of liberty and the free market.
Among the featured keynote speakers of the past Adam Smith Forums, we had the president of Cato Institute Peter Goettler, founder and president of Liberland Vít Jedlička, intellectual property lawyer Stephan Kinsella, president of the Hayek Institute Barbara Kolm, the late Georgian Minister of Economy Kakha Bendukidze, and others.
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