This past weekend was the annual Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) Conference, which meets in Las Vegas in alternate years. Scholars across disciplines presented research, held roundtable discussions of books new and old, and hosted panel discussions on topics of interest. In plenary sessions, Robert Levy discussed Supreme Court decisions that expanded the reach of the state, Lawrence White talked about his forthcoming book The Clash of Economic Ideas, and Peter Leeson discussed his in-progress book Anarchy Unbound. I (and others) tweeted observations at the hashtag #APEE. A good time was had by all. Here are a few observations and thoughts on the 2012 edition of APEE, held at Harrah’s.

I spoke as part of three panels and moderated another session. In the first panel, I gave an abbreviated version of a talk I’ve titled “Why Not Socialism?” that will appear as a working paper sometime soon. In the second panel, I discussed Gordon Lloyd and Nicholas Capaldi’s edited voume The Two Narratives of Political Economy, which I recently reviewed for Conversations on Philanthropy. The third panel I was on was called “The Best of The Freeman,” and I discussed my article with Steven Horwitz in which we summarized Thomas C. Leonard’s research on the eugenic origins of Progressive Era reforms like minimum wages and child labor laws.

In one of the first sessions of the conference, I was part of a panel that included Bradley Thompson, James Otteson, Peter Boettke, and an overflow crowd. Professors Thompson and Boettke made powerful cases against the notion that Marxism is a benign (or benevolent) social ideal that was handled poorly. Professor Thompson defended the thesis that “Marxism’s moral ideal is repulsive,” noting that Maoism and Stalinism were not corruptions of Marx’s doctrine but implications of it. Professor Boettke and his co-author asked whether Marxism was good for anything and answered “absolutely nothing.” In this session, I discussed Mises and Hayek’s critiques of socialism. While I didn’t spend much time discussing Marx, here’s an article on Marx I wrote a few years ago.

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