Semantic Traps: Politics with Loaded Terms

A Seminar for Scholars, Journalists and Entrepreneurs

“One must always repeat the truth, because even the error around us is preached again and again. And not from individuals but from the crowd.”
J.W. von Goethe

When political speech writers pen speeches for presidents, prime ministers, and other influential dignitaries, they choose their words carefully, knowing that rhetoric matters.

A classic case of an intentional deception of words, according to Schumpeter was the hijacking of the term liberal. In a similar fad, the market economy is increasingly condemned as a system of crony capitalists, the empty notion of social justice turned into a general verdict on our society’s moral status, or the dramatic slogan climate change became a substitute for the effect of greenhouse gases. In chapter 7 of The Fatal Conceit, “Our Poisoned Language,” F.A. von Hayek lists over 100 words before which we put social ranging from social accounting to social property to social waste, and in each case obfuscate their meaning.

Have you ever wondered how many of our habitual political terms have assumed quite different meanings or, maybe deliberately, have even taken on undertones that suggest something detrimental to what we want to get across?  It seems as if the old Confucius warning “when words lose their meaning people will lose their liberty” has more relevance today then ever before.

With Confucius’ admonition in mind, PERC, LAF (Liechenstein Academy Foundation), and ECAEF (European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation) have teamed up to organize a seminar on “Semantic Traps: Politics with Loaded Terms”. Details including the agenda are seen below. If you are interested in finding out more about the seminar, contact co-directors, Terry Anderson ([email protected]) or Kurt Leube ([email protected]).


June 9-11, 2016 (Thursday evening to Saturday noon)


Liechtenstein Academy Foundation Campus: Freudenfels Castle
Lake Constance, Eschenz, Switzerland
Admission FeeFree Admission 
Program DirectorHans-Rudolf Maag
Academic DirectorsTerry L. Anderson and Kurt R. Leube
Seminar Program 
Thursday – 9 June, 2016 
tbdOpening Dinner (optional)
 Welcoming remarks by H.S.H. Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
Friday – 10 June, 2016 
09:00 – 09:30Registration 
09:30 – 10:00Welcome and Opening
 Member of the Princely Family (LI), Hans-Rudolf Maag (CH) and Terry L. Anderson (USA)
Session I: Politics  
10:00 – 10:30«On the Confusion of Terms in the Political Debate»
 Michael Wohlgemuth (D)
10:30 – 10:45Discussion 
10:45 – 11:15Coffee break
11:15 – 11:45«Justice, Fairness, Solidarity! The Prophecy of a ‘Socially Just’ Society»
 Hardy Bouillon (D)
11:45 – 12:00Discussion 
12:00 – 12:30«Is the ‘Public Interest’ really in the Public’s Interest?»
 Carlos Gebauer (D)
12:30 – 12:45Discussion 
12:45 – 14:00Buffet Lunch for all participants at seminar site
Session II: Economics
14:00 – 14:30

«Are the Poor really Getting Poorer as the Rich are Getting Richer?»

 Erich Weede (D)
14:30 – 14:45Discussion 
14:45 – 15:15«In Defense of Private Property» 
 Gary Libecap (USA)
15:15 – 15:30Discussion 
15:30 – 16:00«Fair Trade and Sustainability: Is Globalization Evil?» 
 Robert Nef (CH)
16:00 – 16:15Discussion
16:15 – 16:45Coffee break
16:45 – 18:00Q&A, Session I and II 

Saturday – 11 June, 2016

08.00 – 09.15Breakfast
09:30 – 09:45Directorial Remarks
 Hans-Rudolf Maag

Session III: Environmental Issues

09:45 – 10:15

«Dynamic Economics and Dynamic Ecology: The Essence of Free Market Environmentalism»

 Terry L. Anderson (USA)
10:15 – 10:30Discussion 
10:30 – 11:00«On Secular vs. Non-Secular Environmental Beliefs» 
 Mark Pennington (UK)
11:00 – 11:15Discussion
11:15 – 11:45Coffee break
11:45 – 12:15«Unleashing the Power of Free Market Environmentalism»
 Martin Hostettler (CH)
12:15 – 12:30Discussion
12:30 – 12:45Closing remarks 

Member of the Princely Family (LI), Hans-Rudolf Maag (CH) and Terry L. Anderson (USA)

12:45Individual departures