15th International Vernon Smith Prize

The 15th International Vernon Smith Prize was an essay competition for the advancement of Austrian Economics – sponsored and organized by ECAEF – European Center of Austrian Economics Foundation, Vaduz (Principality of Liechtenstein). Topic in 2022:

George Orwell:
… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

The wisdom that people lose their freedom as soon as words begin to lose their meaning can easily be traced back at least to Confucius (551-479BC). As reality becomes intelligible only through clear and uncorrupted words, the direct cause of most disagreements and political discords seems to be an anarchy of meanings. And yet, no more than gradually we begin to comprehend that the intentional alteration of the meaning of words or fake news not only have grave political implications for any society grounded on the Rule of Law. They also critically jeopardize the sovereignty of its citizens and their trust in institutions.
One of the most evident Semantic Traps is the transformation of the almost sacred word ‘social’. Shrouded in mystery, over time this ubiquitous term more than others has corrupted the fantasies of social scientists and politicians alike. Used in certain pervasive word arrangements such as Social Justice or Social Democracy the word is employed to hint at feelings of envy, of guilt or even of revenge. Time and again this term is not only utilized to effectively disguise true political objectives. With unmistakable collectivist undertones, the word social often also bears strong resentments against individual freedom, private property or the market economy in general.

The winners of the Vernon Smith Prize 2022 are:

1: Lisa H. Kinspherger (IT): When the “social” becomes an end in itself… individual agency and freedom will disappear: How are intellectuals shaping this ideal?

Read 1st Prize Essay by L. H. Kinspherger

2: Johann-Jakob Chervet (CH): The Living Tree and the Erosion of the Rule of Law

Read 2nd Prize Essay J.J. Chevret 

3: Krzysztof L. Lesniewski (PL) “… if thought corrupts language, language corrupts thought” ex-aequo with Jonas Trappe (DE)“… if thought corrupts language, language corrupts thought.”

Read 3rd Prize Essay by K. L. Lesniewski 

Read 3rd Prize Essay by J. Trappe 

The introductory remarks at the VSP Prize Ceremony were given by Prof. Hardy Bouillon. Read Introductory Remarks by Hardy Bouillon given at XV. Vernon Smith Prize Ceremony, Feb. 6, 2023. 


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