Just over two years after the launch of bubb.la, the successful Swedish version of Corax, it was time for the project’s first conference. The founders, Martin Eriksson and Sofia Arkestål, invited editors, premium members, fans and curious liberty-minded people to visit their new home Malta, where the temperatures always are higher than the taxes. With guests and speakers flying in from the US, Iceland, Cyprus, Sweden, Ireland and Liberland the conference made it possible to meet up with old friends and just as much making new ones. Saturday and Sunday was filled with presentations and workshops on a wide variety of topics, but with a clear focus on activism. We left Sweden for a week of blue water, good food and long, interesting discussions with like-minded people—and this is our recount of CoraxConf2016.
With most participants taking the opportunity to raise their D-vitamin levels, enjoy the beaches and get the chance to experience the island nation there was approximately 25 people on spot already on the Tuesday. Every day, without any central planning, people organized sightseeing activities, dinners and discussions continued long into the night on beach rocks, at after parties or in the clubbing district Paceville. This networking and socializing was for many of us just as important as the formal conference itself. As Simon Gustafsson, a Swedish anarcho-poet, beautifully explained in his poem “Destination Frihet” it is not everyday that you get to have deep conversations about fractional-reserve banking or what it means to have a reactonary view on society.
The conference and the speakers
A professional public speaking trainer, Tommy taught us both how to make a great presentation but also how to reach through to people, that using emotions can trump even the best logical argument. By going through the main characteristics of different parts of the brain, he wanted more of us to understand that probably the most crucial part in trying to become successful in communication is to make sure the person you’re communicating with sees you as a friend rather than a threat. After being accepted as a friend by the reptilian brain, you are able to start speaking to the emotion-focused limbic system. As very rational people, libertarians tend to start with the logical arguments straight away but Tommy adviced to take the short way through the limbic system instead of directly heading for the neo-cortex, the most complex part of the brain which is programmed to question everything new. Tommy also shared his best public speaking tips which were show your unarmed hands, look into your audience’s eyes long enough to get a connection and short enough to avoid awkwardness, try to smile as naturally as you can and last but not least, raise your eyebrows!
The founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, which inspired the entire world-wide movement, Rick started his session by showing that people copy their leaders. As a leader it is important to show how you want the activists to act. The session was divided into two parts, the concept Swarmwise which Rick has created of his experiences followed by a workshop on how to apply these ideas to Corax. Swarmwise is basically a way of inspiring a large crowd to support a common goal, make them work for this idea without anyone actually tlling them what to do and create an organization that can win over competitors with a budget a hundred times bigger. Your goal must be credible, tangible, inclusive and most of all epicly world-changing! Once you’ve inspired so many people by just stating your dream, it is important to make it easy for them to get active. Rick created the three-pirate-rule, which meant that party members could do something in the name of the party and use party resources as long as three members supported it. He forbid asking others for permission, saying it slows down action, puts responsibility away from the individual and the decision will be taken by someone who doesn’t necessarily understand what he or she is supposed to decide over.
In the second part of the workshop we tried to conclude why we are Coraxians, how Corax works and what we do. Promoting freedom, creating safe spaces for libertarians to focus their energy on productive things, changing the media climate and inspiring critical thinking were some of the answers to the big question “why Corax?”. We also wrote down examples of which type of responsibilities and activist-roles that could be needed if we created some kind of a swarm-like organisation.
Well-respected Kurdish-Swedish researcher and writer Nima Sanandaji talked about his new book “Debunking Utopia” which comes out in approximately two weeks. Already #1 of top selling new books on political philosophy on Amazon, the book explains why Nordic European states are successful despite being welfare states and not because of them. Nima, putting philosophy aside and looking at the facts, showed how prosperity, equality and good social outcomes were defining the Nordic states long before the large increase in government the last 50 years. Instead he is making the case for a cultural explanation, showing that US citizens with Scandinavian origin has even higher prosperity than their cousins that never emigrated. Strong working ethics, a healthy lifestyle and diet, social cohesion and a homogenous population are what created the societies that the Left tend to call utopian and that are often used to show social democracy works. He warned that even though the Nordics are still doing well compared to other similar states, the welfare system is in many ways destroying the culture that created these impressive countries.
Inviting a president to a libertarian activism conference can sound contradictionary but Vít Jedlička was a perfect fit. A long-time activist, he decided to found the Free Republic of Liberland on a piece of land between Serbia and Croatia not claimed by any of the two countries because of a border conflict. Situated on the Croatian side of the Danube river, its eastern border is international waters. Vít enthusiastically spoke about how activists from all around the world are working to make the dream of a new libertarian microstate become reality. Already having their own airline, beer, stamps, soccer team and much more, the President is now travelling the world to build diplomatic relations and meet up with citizens. Despite the obvious challenges of starting a new country, Liberland has received immense support and attention world-wide. On the diplomatic level, things seem to go the right way with eight Polish MPs recently wishing the country would recognize Liberland and support from many prominent politicians from around the world. Vít also showed a picture of the future Liberland government building, an old house already on the land, saying that the government would never become bigger than the house and pointing at one of the rooms saying “one room for the police, next room for diplomats, etc”.
Swedish opinion editor and former president of Swedish student association FMSF, Alexandra Ivanov, talked about communication and political activism. Taking examples from her own life, she emphasized the importance of being well prepared when deciding to do something that possibly could provoke a lot of people and get media attention. Chose what is your main points beforehand and stick to them. Make sure to chose the right moment, when there is a current event proving your point, and avoid using a tragedy to get your message across. With a big smile she told the story of the Amalthea bus line, a protest action against a union strike, which received a lot of attention in Swedish media. Another example was the Frihetsfika-movement where the student association gathered over 4000€ to support two immigrants running a small bakery who where attacked by the unions for paying their employee a slightly lower wage than the union wanted, while themselves were struggling financially. She explained that by choosing your fights you could get support from outside your traditional supporter crowd and raise your possibilities to create actual change.
CEO of the Swedish libertarian precious metal company Liberty Silver, Mikael From, was not only a speaker but also a sponsor of the conference. The company has a long history of supporting libertarian activism and is well-known to radio bubb.la’s listeners. Mikael gave a short presentation on why precious metals are better than fiat money and why precious metals are a promising investment at the moment. He finished by sharing some graphs on how gold has been flowing to China the latest years, both by private and government import, and talked about what this means for the world economy.
Libertarian legend, former radio host, chair of the Libertarian Party in the US and recorder of numerous libertarian conferences and events since the 70’s (some of which are available at Libertarianism.org) held a speech about the history of the movement, the current situation and possible developments in the future. Jim doesn’t disregard politics, but thinks we need to head into tech, biotech and other buisiness sectors that will shape the future—or atleast start to talk about the market and spontaneous order in a similar organic sense—and not argue too much about who’s a true Scotsman.
Co-founder of bubb.la and Corax Martin Eriksson held the last session of the conference and gave an insight into his philosphical development the last 20 years. Bringing up two books that changed his view on freedom, Discourse on Voluntary Servitude or the Anti-Dictator by Étienne de la Boétie and The Ego and Its Own by Max Stirner, he explained that he realized freedom has a lot to do with how free we perceive ourselves. Sharing more or less his life story, he led us along the path which led him and Sofia to start bubb.la in 2014. He promoted entrepreneurship and activism to create the world we want to see and to build our own freedom. Sharing examples of liberty-associated industries, he asked all of us to talk to each other and brainstorm ideas for new companies that can increase freedom. He finished by saying that the success of the conference should be evaluated by how many companies and projects that have been started because of it.
That’s our take. We hope to see you next year!
/Daniel and Kalle