The Free Market Road Show had a twin start in 2018. This year we kick started the tour with two cities. Seville, in the heart of Andalucía, and Prague – which is also the home of the European Resource Bank Meeting.
The Seville event perfectly reflected the main aim of this year’s Road Show. Namely, to discuss about about what European values really are.
Thus, the first panel featured a debate about how the change of values is affecting European societies. The debate featured Manuel Llamas, from Libertad Digital, and Juan Torres, a university teacher.
Mr. Llamas explained that the recognition individual rights has been key in the history of Europe. “The rights to life, property, and the contractual freedom are our most fundamental institution,” he explained and continued, “in a nutshell, the rule of law.”
In this sense he regretted that the European Union has used the last crisis in order to give more power to eurocrats at the expense of the citizens. “The European Union,” Llamas said, “is the result of a lesson learned after two world wars – that protectionism signals a coming war. It is then very sad that the current EU super state has nothing to do with the original project of free trade and peace.”
The last financial crisis, Llamas warned, has also boosted populists and demagogues. “When we face a crisis we always look for a sense of security, and that plays in favor of charlatans – like ‘Podemos’ in Spain or ‘Golden Dawn’ in Greece.” It is also dangerous to Llamas that more and more Europeans take progress and development as granted. “Countries like Venezuela and Argentina show us that development is very fragile.”
A common concern in Europe is the demographic crisis. Llamas offered an interesting point of view. According to him, it is not necessarily bad that people are having fewer children as long as it is a voluntary decision. “It is something that is going on all across the developed world. It is definitely a problem for the welfare state, but not for the civil society.”
Mr. Llamas defended the fundamental European institutions and values and warned the audience: “Run away from those who want to change our institutions.”
Then it was the turn of Mr. Torres – who presented a provocative case about European values. According to the university professor, the “conservative revolution” of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (at the other side of the Atlantic) has permeated the values of current European societies. “There is a turn in our fundamental values,” he claimed. “On the one hand, the individual has become much more important than the society as a whole. On the other, from Keynesianism we have turned to neoliberalism.”
Capitalism most disruptive innovation, according to Mr. Torres, is that it has taken individual work to the logic of pure market economy.
He closed his remarks defending Keynes: “Keynesianism is much more than public spending.”
The second panel focused on the crisis and perspectives of democracy.
Juan Manuel Cabello González, an economist from Málaga, raised two issues. Firstly, that the crisis of democracy it is absolutely related with the utter success of socialdemocracy. “Socialdemocracy has become the official ideology of all parties because the majority of citizens wants socialdemocracy.”
He then proposed that a good way to solve some of the problems democracy faces would be the introduction of a voting system that takes into account how much each voter pays in taxes. “Something similar as how things work in the administration of a building.”
Miguel Ángel Quintana Paz used Switzerland as a good example: “That many Swiss citizens do not know the name of the president of the country is a sing of democratic strength, not weakness.”
Domingo Soriano, a Spanish journalist from Libertad Digital, expressed that, unlike the Swiss experience, in the rest of Europe “we have moved towards a democratic absolutism.”
The Free Market Road Show will visit 40 cities across Europe. Check our tour schedule and follow us on Facebook.