What was going on with me… And how I ended up speaking in Vienna

The last months flew by quickly. In the fall, I was busy preparing my paper and speech for the 10th International Austrian Conference: https://www.austrianconference.org/ I arrived in Vienna as a keynote speaker, not yet 32 years old, not a philosopher or an economist by training, and still repeating the progression of events that led to this point in my head.

I was a geophysicist in my previous life – before I realized what has happened to Western academia with its ever-present relativization of truth, whitewashing of communism and downfall of moral values. Due to my own traumas, I have had enough – and in 2017, instead of finishing my PhD, I sent my Mises University application to Alabama and my AEC internship application to Vienna. And also, I wrote about information war for the ECAEF competition in Liechtenstein. I was angry. I was retaliating. I was learning philosophy and economics online like there was no tomorrow. It was just a coping mechanism. Looking back, I realize I was in a dark place, having to say goodbye to my childish dream of being a scientist, burnt out in my job, not knowing what to do next, emotionally abused by disordered people, dealing with mass grave nightmares due to that intergenerational thing, something something DNA methylation, but honestly, why don’t they respect life, why don’t they respect the victims of communism, why don’t they KNOW, what am I even doing here, am I even supposed to be alive, I have to write that essay on propaganda to assert my existence…

This is how it started. And then, in 2018, I got an invitation to Vaduz after my essay was in the top 10 of the Vernon Smith Prize. What did I do? I am just a physicist! I was just… trying to mentally cope! And then I passed my Mundliche Prufung in Alabama, talking to Tom Woods about the differences between Mises’s and Hayek’s critique of socialism… I passed it instead of getting my PhD… I wanted to stay alive… No news from Vienna though.

Until one day in September – I got an email from Federico. I knew who he was from all the Free Market Road Shows. There’s this Language of Liberty conference, and I am supposed to fly over to Vienna and discuss certain readings – some important ones, including McCloskey, Hayek, Popper, Mises’s liberalism chapter… Well, of course I said yes. I have met some of my old friends and made new ones. I was battling a seriously toxic environment in my previous job at the time, but I tried hard to take it all in as well as I could. I still have the assigned readings on my desk. I have to read more Popper for my upcoming piece. This opportunity was more giving than I initially thought. I have learned that your developmental milestones really start with leaving your room and talking to people…

Just a few months passed by, and Federico invited me over for some winter tea in the Freedom Lounge in Warsaw. There’s a conference coming up – bringing austrian economics back to Vienna. Why don’t a submit a paper? Well… why? Because… I’m not an economist… But hey, if someone who organizes the event asks me to do it, then maybe it is a good idea… Some thematic areas deal with philosophy and more normative fields after all, and I have this propaganda essay I can turn into a paper… I would have never thought about it without Federico’s encouragement.

The year is 2019. We meet in Vienna. I have two talks and I moderate a session. The next month, an email follows – the Free Market Road Show is coming up, would I like to be a speaker? Of course! It’s 2020, we have to talk online, but there’s so much to cover. All those places where freedom, psychology and philosophy meet. How innovation needs flourishing people. Why socialism is still popular, what my experiences are and what to do. Oh, and how knowing when we are abused helps us understand human nature and human rights…

The same year, I made it to Alabama for my summer fellowship at the Mises Institute. I researched psychological manipulations in certain philosophies, and I focused mostly on how dialectics transformed from a method of argumentation to a method of manipulation. I am so thankful to all of the Institute’s donors who made this possible and offered me a piece of home far away in the South. And I am proud of myself for figuring out how to land in the States despite the travel ban (thank you, Serbia!).

That sounds energetic. Like I was making a lot of progress, and maybe academically I was, but it still felt like a fight – like I had to do it to stay alive because nobody sees me and my story. I did not realize I really was in untreated trauma all along. And being hypervigilant without any rest takes a toll on you. I came back to Europe and soon it felt like reality was… burning. Spicy-kind of burning. Every breath felt like eating chilli peppers. I did not believe I had a future. I wanted that fight to stop. I started scaring myself. The interface got too intense. My relations suffered.

I ended up in a doctor’s office, and suddenly my prescription meds eased up my amygdala so that I could breathe and function. It initially felt like having your head in plaster – oh, here comes the fight or flight response, but my neurons that lead there are blocked, and I am chemically protected. I worked hard. Stayed home and focused on getting back to myself.

I started recording a podcast with the Ayn Rand Center Romania (thank you Mirela!), and, a few months into my treatment, started a tutoring business. Back in academia, I loved teaching. And I know I am good at explaining math. Meeting people and providing them with service helped me a lot. Relations heal. Being useful does too.

April 2021 came, Federico calls me again… Would I want to be a keynote speaker in the fall? We’re having an in-person conference back in Vienna…

Of course! That’s one motivation to polish my Alabama research!

And so it happened. And I couldn’t be more thankful. Without AEC, Federico and Britt, and Barbara, of course, and without the Mises Institute, Pat, Felicia, prof. Salerno and prof. Gordon… It’s possible I wouldn’t be here right now. That is not something I say easily. But it is true.

I took a huge leap of faith back in 2017. I didn’t know how far I would come. I learned what truly matters. Yes, „I didn’t know my own strength”.

So… that’s what I have been doing – one thing led to another and this fall, I was driving down to Vienna with my keynote speech: „Don’t mess with the truth. Or you will end up dead”.

You can watch the full version here:

And the podcast on psychology and human rights I recorded with the wonderful Mirela from the Ayn Rand Center Romania can be found here:

Egoist FM (English) (spreaker.com)Egoist FM (English) | Podcast w Spotify
Egoist FM (English) (google.com)
Egoist FM (English) on Apple Podcasts
Objectivism.FM | Facebook

Note the „Egoist FM” has nothing to do with narcissism that I often write about, quite the contrary. After all, Ayn Rand also didn’t want for any other human to live FOR her.

And now… I have a lot to write. Thank you for being patient with me. And if you have any issues with… the interface – do reach out for help.

The amazing AEC team edited and published beautiful conference proceedings… Richard the kitten approves.

Opublikowane przez agnieszkakonstancja

Freedom, not manipulation.


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