Scholarship Recipient Interview



George Tracey, 23, MA PPE and Austrian Economics student at the Cevro Institute and recipient of the Mises UK scholarship.

What does CEVRO offer that most masters courses do not?
CEVRO’s small class sizes completely change the nature of study in such a fundamental way. They allow students the scope to debate and develop our own ideas that wouldn’t be possible in a larger institution. One of my favourite ways to learn, which CEVRO manages to embody frequently in its teaching, is a much more Socratic approach to study. We use lecture time to debate and discuss our understanding and insights on various papers with world leading academics to help steer the conversation and share their knowledge as well. At CEVRO learning is an active pursuit, not passive absorption of PowerPoints.

Does CEVRO’s size and youth as an institution affect how you learn?
Absolutely, CEVRO treats its students as adults, with the privileges and obligations that come with that. Professor Šíma encourages us to take on as much as we can and is always willing to make things work for students that ask (this semester I am auditing 4 classes beyond my original 5). I have already mentioned how the small class sizes affect the teaching, but they also of course affect student-lecturer dynamics. CEVRO has a great tradition of continuing the debate after class, where students and lecturers get together and drink fine Czech beer. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been possible so far this year due to COVID restrictions. One of CEVRO’s greatest strengths is its connection with other institutions on a global scale, Professor Šíma introduced me to the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) after a discussion we had, and since I have applied to go there as a Junior Research Fellow this fall. The personal connections you make with the members of CEVRO really helps to enable this individually focussed development and advice from fellow students and lecturers.

How has your study been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the most obvious thing that you miss out on is living and studying in Prague. I was there for 6 weeks before I had to return to the UK in November 2020, it is an amazing city (and the beer is unimaginably cheap) and it has been a real shame having to study online from the UK instead of in the Czech Republic. Naturally, the move to online learning had some teething problems, not least getting used to tracking two different time zones to live in UK time and study in Czech time. The end of my undergraduate degree was also taught online due to COVID but the problem I found with traditional lectures online is that the passive nature of watching them lead to me getting distracted and losing focus easily. Luckily most of CEVRO’s lectures are much more interactive and discursive and this helps negate some of the drawbacks of online learning.

Can you say a little bit more about what topics you’ve studied?
CEVRO’s MA syllabus really is diverse, as any good PPE course ought to be. Naturally, there is a compulsory course on Economics in the first semester to make sure everyone is on the same level. Due to our diverse academic history this was really helpful- I myself studied Philosophy as an undergraduate and despite being familiar with economic principles, I benefited greatly from a more solid grounding. Most of our topics are quite difficult to clearly delineate into any specific school, for example one of my favourite modules so far has been ‘Law and Economics of Property Rights’ taught by Dr. Katerina Zajc (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Dr. Boudewijn Boukaert (Ghent, Belgium). This topic really pushed home the interplay between legal systems and economics, but also history and political philosophy (for example having a common law or civil law tradition). Another Brilliant module I’m currently studying is ‘Advanced topics in Austrian Price Theory’ taught by Mateusz Machaj (Assistant Professor at Wroclaw, Poland), in it we delve into a specific issue within Austrian Price Theory (as the name suggests), I’ve especially enjoyed the discussions about whether market socialism can address the calculation and knowledge problems Mises and Hayek posed against socialism almost a century ago.

Most importantly, would you recommend CEVRO to a friend?
I would definitely recommend CEVRO’s MA in PPE to anyone who has an interest in the overlap between the disciplines. The interplay between politics, philosophy and economics truly is fascinating, and CEVRO’s approach to economics isn’t just the dry mainstream of econometrics or statistics a layman assumes when he hears economics. CEVRO teaches the much richer world of mainline economics, this tradition heralds from Adam Smith, and takes economics proper as the study of how we interact with and within the world and so includes institutions like laws and religions within their scope of economics. Some of my most interesting lectures have been discussions about how self-governance systems in prisons changes from ‘convict’s code’ to prison gangs as the population in a prison increases and reputation tracking of individuals becomes unfeasible. Cevro has opened my eyes to how much of the world can be understood through an economic lens, properly focussed, and it’s an experience I recommend to anyone. There are of course drawbacks to CEVRO, like with everything. One example is dealing with the Nostification process which is required by Czech law to check the validity of your previous studies, the hassle has been exasperated by the COVID restrictions. In my opinion however, it is an inconvenience well worth putting up with.

Sean Gabb Turns Sixty


by Keir Martland

Over the next few days, there shall follow a short series of articles extolling the virtues of Dr Sean Gabb. A lengthier series could be devoted to his manifold sins and naughtiness. Since Sean is so secretive about his actual birthday, I have decided to start this series some distance from the date itself. The first instalment is by yours truly.

How to begin? Well, if the term means anything, Sean Gabb has been my ‘best friend’ for more years than is medically recommended. Not only can I be sure we are always on the same page politically-speaking, but we also share many of the same social and cultural prejudices, and a common black sense of humour, not to mention cynicism by the bucketload. This is no small feat for both of us since he is without question an Enlightenment man – a Millian liberal, a religious sceptic, a believer in scientific Progress – and I am a Counter-Enlightenment Catholic. For all this, somehow our outlooks often represent two sides of the same coin. Continue reading

Mises UK-CEVRO scholar reports on his experience


Do take the time to read the below, by Richard Mason, our Mises UK scholar at the CEVRO Institute:

Richard Mason writes, “Having been involved with SFL for much of my university career, I’d naturally heard many great things about CEVRO. The idea of broadening my understanding of politics, philosophy and economics under a prestigious international faculty was, of course, very enticing. Obviously, the idea of living and studying in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe was a pretty exciting concept as well.

So, as I pondered the potential routes I could take after graduating from my B.A., applying to CEVRO seemed like a great option. Fast-forward half a year from my acceptance letter, and I’m so glad I applied!

CEVRO and the PPE programme have not only met, but exceeded my expectations. While still in my first trimester, and thus just at the start of my M.A. journey, the content and structure of the courses so far have been seriously impressive. The core courses provide a great foundation for a broad understanding of all things PPE, while the electives allow a good deal of freedom to focus and specialise on something more specific.

The fact that these classes are taught by a world-class faculty is a cherry on top, especially since you get to work so closely with faculty, rather than sit behind 300 students in a lecture hall. This access to wonderful professors allows for a far more tailor-made experience than I’d imagine can be found at larger institutions.

This is only further evidenced by the individual support offered by CEVRO’s staff. Links to essay competitions, conferences, scholarships, and other academic opportunities are frequently shared with us on the course’s Facebook page, meaning we never miss an opportunity to showcase our work to the world.

As for the people I’m lucky enough to study with, I was very pleasantly surprised by the diversity of thoughts and opinions of my classmates. There’s plenty of room and opportunity for interesting, heated discussions on numerous topics both in class and out. Plus, when we aren’t discussing, the city of Prague famously has a plethora of social opportunities both day and night. With such a great student body, as well as the city’s large expat community, I haven’t found the time to feel bored!

To be able to study PPE in the heart of Prague, with a great range of scholarships available for many students, was naturally a no-brainer to me. I was fortunate enough to get one of these scholarships from the Mises Centre UK, and many more are offered to potential students from all over the world.

Anyone looking for an M.A. programme with a diverse curriculum, great opportunities for independent study, supportive staff, a close-knit family of classmates, and a truly exceptional international faculty need look no further. CEVRO is the place to go!”

Clearly CEVRO is everything Richard hoped it would be. If this piqued your interest, find out more about applying for the Mises UK scholarship at the excellent CEVRO Institute, Prague. 

“We must obey God rather than men”: Lutheran-Calvinist theories of resistance


“We must obey God rather than men”: Lutheran-Calvinist theories of resistance
By Keir Martland 

The theology of Luther, Calvin, and other sixteenth-century Protestants is similar in some respects to that of S. Augustine, and arguably in the case of Calvin, based on a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of Augustine’s doctrine of predestination, with Harro Hopfl describing the latter as Luther and Calvin’s “favourite Patristic theologian.” Whatever the provenance of it, there is in the writings of Luther and Calvin a strong emphasis on the fallen nature of man. Now, earlier Christian thinkers with such a view of the impaired, flawed, even wretched nature of man, tended to also hold such a view of society as a whole. When thinkers such as Augustine or later ‘Political Augustinians’ applied themselves to political matters, because of their view of man and society, they gave no ‘naturalistic’ interpretation of government, authority, and power, no account of it independent of the source of all goodness, God, since man and society were, on this account, incapable of any virtue apart from Christian virtue. Their treatments of politics, then, left little room for theories of resistance or even for theories of ownership and political authority independent of the Church; rather, such thinkers tended to view all dominion as belonging ultimately to the Church and they expected at least passive obedience from the Christian to the established secular – delegated – and spiritual authorities. Yet there developed in the sixteenth-century a Lutheran-Calvinist resistance theory, or theories. It is, on the face of it, hard to see how the resistance theory as found in Theodore Beza or the Vindiciae contra Tyrannos developed from the writings of Luther and Calvin. Continue reading

Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics


Towards a naturalistic account of man, society, and politics
By Keir Martland

For much of the Middle Ages – ordered anarchy though it was, owing to the situation on the ground of overlapping jurisdictions and law codes – the path to a fully-developed political or legal philosophy of any kind was blocked. There were, to be sure, a number of obstacles for the political philosopher, and no single factor can be held entirely responsible. Among these factors was the very idea of Christendom itself, since men in the Middle Ages did not separate ‘Church’, ‘State’, ‘Empire’, ‘kingdom’, ‘Europe’ etc. If ever Hilaire Belloc’s line that “Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe” was factually correct, it was during the early to high Middle Ages. Naturally, this lack of clear thinking was one significant impediment to the development of serious political thought. At the same time, this Christendom required, so many thought, a single dominus. Whether pope or Western Emperor, for as long as the secular realm was thought of in the same terms as the spiritual realm, where one Lord and one Faith were both sufficient and necessary, for as long as the mission of the temporal powers was the same as the mission of the spiritual powers, one man on earth surely ought to be lord of the world. As a result, for much of the Middle Ages, while the battle for the position of dominus mundi raged between pope and emperor or pope and king or emperor and king, the ‘political thought’ produced was necessarily to a certain extent propaganda which took for granted the unity of Christendom under one divinely-appointed head. Continue reading

Mises 2018: Introductory Remarks


Welcome, fellow extremists!
Chairman’s Address to inaugural Mises UK Conference,
at the Charing Cross Hotel
27th January 2018 

Extremism Disruption Orders

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said of the Government’s planned ‘Extremism Disruption Orders’, that they will go “beyond terrorism” and “eliminate extremism in all its forms.” The Government has said that these Extremism Disruption Orders will be introduced to tackle “harmful activities” of “extremist individuals” who “spread hate” but do not “break laws.” Continue reading

Anti-Semitism


We repost Sean Gabb’s statement on anti-Semitism which he made while Director of the Libertarian Alliance. We wish to make it clear that Mises UK regards this statement as canonical:

The problem with anti-semitic conspiracy theories is that they involve continuous selection. Therefore, you take the fact that Karl Marx was a socialist, and overlook that he was a racist and cultural conservative. You take the fact that Mahler was a musical revolutionary, and overlook that he was a German nationalist. You wholly overlook people like Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, or Paul Gottfried and Meyer Schiller. You also overlook how many poisonous lefties there seem to be in Israel, calling for open borders and the demotion of Jewish symbols.

Jews tend to be opinionated and vociferous. There are Jews arguing fluently on each side of every argument. You can put together a very convincing theory of Jewish subversion by selecting certain opinions of certain Jews, and ascribing these to all or most Jews. You are left with a composite Jew that may exist in a few instances, but is not representative of the Jews we meet in our everyday lives.

You could, by using the same method, but applying a different principle of selection, prove that Jews were sexually-repressed white nationalists with a tendency to convert to Roman Catholicism. You will also find examples of the resulting composite. Again, it will be unrepresentative.

The truth is that we’ve messed our civilisation up by ourselves, and would have got where we now are even if every Jew in the world had fallen dead c1870.

We regret that recent events have made it necessary to repost this.