Following the honour of chairing an Economic Policy Centre dinner in London on Tuesday evening, Wednesday saw me travel to Gent in Belgium where I was delighted to deliver an hour long lecture – followed by another hour of questions and answers – to the fabulously sound students of the Liberal Students Movement – LVSV. As one of Belgian’s leading student societies, now approaching their 80th anniversary, not only is this group astonishingly active, but also they muster huge audiences.
Prior to the formal proceedings of the evening, the group’s committee took me out to a wonderful dinner. Telling me how delighted they were to have me with them, and commenting that “my reputation preceded me” (I think that was a complement!), they informed me that many people in the audience were already well versed in Mises, Rothbard and the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics. Moreover, they said that we would be joined by students and friends from the Rothbard Institute, which indeed we were.
While I performed well and all the feedback from those who attended has been positive, it was a real delight for me to give my talk in the city’s Liberal Archive building. Indeed, to speak in a library lined with a vast collection of sound classical liberal texts and which includes all the modern greats only added to the sense of occasion. I was also delighted to learn that its excellent array of books – including those of an Austrian disposition – are also being regularly accessed and used by an ever-larger number of PhD students.
In true Belgian style the evening ended with around a third of the audience (30 people) retiring to a local beer garden where we enjoyed the warmth of good intellectual company and what turned out to be a wonderful Spring evening. That said, right at the end of the evening, I was somewhat surprised yet delighted to see many of the youngsters with me handing around copies of the Adam Smith Institute’s latest offering – A Beginners Guide to Liberty – which they had just imported from London. Funny old world!