Recap: 2013 SFL Dallas Regional Conference

Saturday afternoon, I attended the 2013 Students for Liberty Dallas Regional Conference in Denton at the University of North Texas.

ALL co-founder Roderick Long (above) spoke on the connection between free(d) markets and radical leftism, showing how they complement one another.

He generously gave his time for an interview beforehand. In the clip below, he addresses whether libertarians oversimplify the importance of liberty and neglect the values of equality and fraternity, what a free market might look like and how quickly the transition would occur, whether a free market can exist, and the importance of remembering how pervasive intervention on behalf of business remains.

Sharon Harris, president of the Advocates for Self-Government, spoke on effective communications strategies. For me, her foremost points were first to do no harm, be a good neighbor (and example), comprehend and echo people’s concerns when establishing rapport, explain the benefits rather than features of liberty, tell people’s stories, and be optimistic.

Harris went into more detail what each point meant, but an answer to an audience question was most moving. She told an appalling story of a man traveling in an overcrowded boat across the shark-invested waters from Haiti to the United States. With little provisions, the passengers who survived narrowly landed but were promptly met by government agents who took the immigrants into custody. On a boat meant to hold no more than a dozen people, the 20 or so survivors could hardly support themselves by their own power once on land. Their clothes were soggy and disheveled from the voyage. As the man Harris spoke of was being processed and his possessions were taken, agents discovered he had tightly bundled a suit under his clothes to keep dry. The waterproof packaging had held. The man explained he intended to exchange his drab clothes with the suit to attend job interviews. The man wanted nothing more than to support his family and make a better life for himself. Having successfully risked everything, his compassion and drive were rewarded with pointed callousness and dull indifference as he was returned to Haiti shortly afterward. Harris said stories like this get people to reexamine their assumptions, giving them reasons why liberty is important to their values too. She said freedom is what makes other worthwhile human values possible, so indeed champions of liberty should be proud of their work.

There were many other notable speakers, but my time was limited. Attendees were offered books and apparel for no charge. A table co-sponsored by the OU Students for a Stateless Society and the OU Young Americans for Liberty was well attended, offering complimentary pamphlets by notable left-libertarians.

The next local SFL conference is in Austin on Nov. 9 with Molinari Institute researcher Dan D’Amico and the upbeat Jeffrey Tucker.