[The following is a speech by Joakim Fagerström at the Mises supports summit in Vienna 2011 that you also may listen to here]
First, let me start by thanking Pat Barnett and the Mises institute for inviting us to speak here today. It is a great honour to be up here talking about the Swedish Mises institute.
History of the foundation
The history of the Swedish Mises institute starts almost exactly two years ago, in 2009, on a bus that was heading from Madrid to Salamanca, to the first Mises Supporter Summit in Europe called “The Birthplace of Economic Theory”.
My good friend Joakim Kämpe and I, had met at work a couple of years or so earlier and we became friends. We were both very interested in libertarian ideas and economics and were eager to ”do something,” to ”make a difference.”
So, on that bus on the way to Salamanca, we met Mr. Beltrao, the founder of Mises Brasil, and he started explaining to us about Mises Brasil, and we listened with great interest.
We realized that this was exactly what we should do in Sweden, and Helio immediately gave us the best advice anyone could have given us: He said, ”Just do it!”
Upon returning to Sweden, we got started right away, and approximately four months after the meeting in Salamanca, the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Sweden was launched.
We both felt that Sweden desperately needed it, because libertarianism and sound economics are almost completely missing from the public debate.
What made the whole process possible at all was the Mises institute’s wonderful dedication to spread ideas for free. We absolutely owe our very existence to them, and the model that they have created, for spreading these ideas.
You can really see this totally open policy paying off on a global scale already. When we started almost 2 years ago, there were maybe 6 global Mises institutes and now there are almost 20! To quote Mr. Beltrao, the austro-libertarian Starfish is truly here to stay!
Before I tell you about what we have done during the 1,5 years we have been in business there are a few things that everyone should know about Sweden, that makes the Swedish Mises Institute even more important.
We know that Sweden is used as an example world wide to prove that Socialism “works”. This is something we hear all the time when we go abroad and even from libertarians. They can even say to us: “why are you a libertarian if you are from Sweden were Socialism works?” Sweden has the reputation of having the best, and only functional, welfare state, that works in perfect coordination with the market to solve all the problems. The famous third way they call it.
In fact, the state of liberty is so bad in Sweden that our most famous and successful “free marketeer”, has famously said that Swedens’s bureaucracy is the most impressive in the world and that it has been for a couple of hundred years. In other words, our socialism works, because our bureaucrats are so good!
How could anyone be a libertarian and against the state in Sweden, where it all works so well!? Isn’t Sweden the country where everyone is happy, and everything is for free!? Where no one pays and everyone benefits?!
This is of course all nonsense and we obviously reject this view completely.
So there are some real facts about Sweden that it is very important that you know about.
There is a myth going around the world right now that Sweden is privatizing the government industries, and of course that would be great!
Well, it would be if it was true, but it is not. The so called Swedish privatizations mostly consist of hiring companies to do their job. So what we have instead is a single-payer and a voucher system. Predictably, the arising problems are blamed on the free market and capitalism. And the solution?
The solution is always a call for more state.
It is said we are the most equal country in the world, and this is true in the sense that now both parents are slaves under heavy tax burdens, just so that we can pay our “free” day care services. Since we now are in the age of the Internet and it becomes harder and harder to brainwash young people since they can find out the truth themselves online they have decided to go after our children when they are even younger. There are serious attempts in Sweden to legislate that you have to send your children to a state institution when they are three years old.
It is said that we have the best school system in the world, and this is definitely true when it comes to applying feminism and the so called “gender studies” to every subject. In all other aspects, it is rapidly falling apart. Sweden is the land where they kidnap your children and put their parents in prison if they choose to home school their children. In Germany a law against home schooling was enacted 1938, in Sweden 2010. Sweden is the only democratic country in the world that has criminalized home schooling.
As you can hear all this is a part of their evil plan to control the minds of our children to make them statists and socialists.
It is said that we have the best health care system in the world, and this was in fact shown in a survey. The only problem was that they forgot to ask they patients. You know, the people who wait for weeks in queues and die before they are allowed to meet a state approved specialist.
First central bank
Sweden also has a world record, although not the one that would make you proud to be a Swede. The first central bank was in fact founded in 1668 in Stockholm.
We are a bit tired of the constant misconceptions regarding Sweden, and that is why we, in coming year, are planning on writing a book unmasking these, and other, myths about Sweden.
The struggle today is the very same struggle that Mises had to fight many years ago. Socialism is alive and breathing in Sweden and has nothing to do with a free market.
Swedish Mises Crest
We have chosen to display the faces of Ludwig von Mises and professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe on the Swedish Mises Crest. The reason for this is to remind us that we must be uncompromising in our dedication to the basic principles and never to be afraid of the truth. Ludwig von Mises never comprimised and was never afraid of the truth. This of course gave him a lot of trouble but he never abandoned the basic principles. Professor Hoppe has continued in Mises tradition. Whatever the topic might be, professor Hoppe has never been afraid of the truth.
This is our intellectual role models and it should be the intellectual role models for everyone. Mises in Sweden is a truly unique group: We are both completely uncompromising regarding the truth, but also compassionate and really want to help people see the truth.
Also on the red banner of the Swedish Mises crest we have put two golden birds, representing the two ravens of Odin, Huginn and Muninn. Muninn represents “What is”, and Huginn represents “What shall come to pass”, and together they create the order and the truth, personified by the all knowing Odin. The crossbow in the middle represents the Swedish freedom fighter and hero Nils Dacke. The arrow is aimed at the old Swedish nation-builder king Gustav Vasa and the central power in Stockholm.
Let me end with a fantastic quote by Mises, that was sent to us by our good friend Fernando Ulrich as a gift for the opening of our institute:
Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping toward destruction. Therefore, everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interest of everyone hangs on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us.
We choose to live by these words at the Swedish Mises institute, and we consider ourselves truly privileged to be able to do our part. The influence of Mises in Sweden is small but we plan to change this.
This is why we feel it is so important to educate people in the ideas of liberty and sound economic thinking. As professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe says, history is ultimately determined by ideas, be they true or false, and ideas can, at least in principle, change almost immediately.
In a short period of time we have translated and written over hundreds of articles. We have been invited and spoken at over a dozen events on topics like Austrian economics and the ethics of liberty. And we are really excited to start our own book projects. We have attracted and expanded the Swedish Mises institute with great writers like Per Bylund and Klaus Bernpaintner.
I must say that we were a bit surprised by the thirst for Austrian economics and liberty in Sweden and now in the end of October we will arrange our very first Mises Circle and we are expecting over 100 attendees.
We have done this without any capital or funding at all, it just requires a lot of time, dedication and energy.
The goal of the Swedish Mises Institute is a humble one: To crush socialism and statism, to end the state parasite and cleanse it out of our society before it devours ourselves and our children.