By: DAVID SHALLENBERGER
In April 2010, I wrote about attending my first event sponsored by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Atlas Experience 2010. The program reinforced my passion for advocating for international liberty, and introduced me to some important concepts I now regularly apply. It also gave me the chance to meet people from around the world who work to advance liberty.
Atlas Experience is one of the two annual events Atlas holds. The other is the Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner.
This discusses the Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner held in the fall of 2010 and the Atlas Experience program held in the spring of 2011. It also highlights a new Atlas project and notes the details of the annual events scheduled for November 2011 and April 2012.
A good introduction to Atlas is its delightful new video, Atlas Network: Champions of Freedom. This opens with the question, “How are students in Malaysia reading the libertarian philosophies of F.A. Hayek and Ayn Rand?” It describes how Atlas supports intellectual entrepreneurs around the world who advance the cause of liberty, thus changing lives.
Atlas Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner
Last November, I attended the Atlas Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner in Washington, D.C. Atlas Network member EFN Asia has a good article on the event, “Liberty Forum Energises, Inspires.” This includes a link to the video of the tribute to Atlas President Alejandro Chafuen for his twenty-five years of service to the organization. The tribute is introduced by Brad Lips, Atlas’s chief executive officer.
It was a pleasure to meet people in person with whom I had gotten to know on Facebook, including Franklin Cudjoe. Mr. Cudjoe is the founder and executive director of IMANI Center for Policy & Education, a free market think tank in Ghana. He is also managing editor of AfricanLiberty.org, which shares the ideas of liberty in multiple languages across Africa. Atlas and Reason TV have created nice videos featuring the work of Adedayo Thomas, AfricanLiberty.org’s publisher and director of outreach.
Another friend from Facebook I was able to meet was Seyitbek Usmanov, a director of the Central Asian Free Market Institute (CAFMI) in Kyrgyzstan. CAFMI received the Templeton Freedom Award for Student Outreach at the event.
I was also fortunate to meet Clark Ruper, vice president of Students for Liberty. I had attended SFL’s Northeast Regional Conference a few days earlier, in order to learn more about the organization, and had enjoyed presentations by speakers including Tom G. Palmer (executive vice president for international programs at Atlas and senior fellow and director of Cato University at the Cato Institute) and Michael Strong (chief executive officer of FLOW [Freedom Lights Our World, Inc.] and co-founder of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.).
SFL gives us cause for optimism. Under the leadership of President and Executive Director Alexander McCobin, it is building support for liberty with young people who will be able to contribute to a freer world. I joined SFL’s OWL Society (Old Wise Libertarians) to contribute to its work, and recently spoke at the inaugural meeting of a new group in the SFL network, Liberty at Boston University.
Atlas Experience 2011
In April, I attended Atlas Experience 2011 in Dallas, Texas. Atlas’s website describes the highlights, with photographs and links to materials. As always, the speakers were informative and inspiring, and the program provided the opportunity to meet remarkable people.
It was great to meet Henriques Viola of Mocambique in person. Mr. Viola is a research assistant at the Center for Mozambican and International Studies (Mocambique CEMO) and the founder and general coordinator of the Mozambican Movement of Liberal Students (MELIMO). (In much of the world, “liberal” means classical liberal, i.e., libertarian.) I had met Manuel Lopes de Araújo, chairman of CEMO, at Atlas Experience 2010, and had begun following the work of the organization. SFL has written about CEMO’s work, in “The Fight for Liberty in Mozambique.”
It was also a pleasure to meet Nouh El-Harmouzi of Morocco, director and editor of Minbaralhurriyya.org, Atlas’s Arabic language outreach program. As I noted in an article in March, Atlas has a special project focused on the Middle East and North Africa, Imagining Tomorrow’s Egypt.
I was aware of Dr. El-Harmouzi through his passionate speech at the rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, this spring, recorded in a video by Dr. Palmer. Here is an excerpt from his speech:
“From the Moroccan people who love you and who want to follow your example: No negotiation for your freedom anymore! Pay attention to keep your freedom! Once again, I encourage you to create a CIVIL state [not military and not religious] and don’t let the politicians steal your freedom! The free Egyptian people can create miracles and can build a developed society.”
Among many others, I also enjoyed meeting and learning about the work of:
•Ali Salman, executive director of the Alternate Solutions Institute in Pakistan. The mission of the organization is “to promote a limited responsible government in Pakistan under the rule of law protecting life, liberty, and property of all of its individual citizens without any discrimination.”
•Natalia Toledo Ricci, director of programs at Fundación Ecuador Libre. The foundation’s mission is to “promote change toward a free and open society that generates welfare and equal opportunities for all, based on the defense of individual liberty, justice, the market economy, private property and the rule of law.”
•Juan Miguel Matheus, founder and director of Formación y acción in Venezuela. FORMA works to develop “a new generation of politicians and citizens, committed to the truth,” to serve the country for the common good.
SFL was represented not only by Clark Ruper, but also by several students who serve as board members. Each of the students was friendly, professional, and committed, and each, like Mr. Ruper, each is an excellent ambassador for the organization.
I am confident that all of us who attend Atlas events leave inspired and more knowledgeable. We also are grateful for the important work done by good people around the world, often under difficult and even dangerous circumstances. In addition, we appreciate the work of Atlas’s dedicated staff. Their many projects include planning and managing the events, ensuring their success.
The Morality of Free Enterprise Project
Atlas has launched The Morality of Free Enterprise Project, partnering with the John Templeton Foundation. The project “focuses attention on the moral component of freedom by showing that free enterprise both depends on and reinforces morality.”
The initiative includes publishing, with SFL, a new book, The Morality of Capitalism, What Your Professors Won’t Tell You. This fall, Atlas and SFL will distribute 100,000 copies of the book to student groups around the world.
People will also enjoy the videos on the site, including The Morality of Profit, featuring Dr. Palmer.
Mark Your Calendar
The next Atlas Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner will be held November 8-9, 2011, in New York City. Registration will open in September. The promotional video shows why this promises to be a spectacular program.
Looking further ahead, Atlas Experience 2012 will be held on April 25-26 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Those of us who focus on international liberty have a simple motivation. We want the people of all nations to have the benefit of freedom, and for all individuals to be able to live their lives in peace, without oppression by government or society. Atlas is helping create a better world where these ideals can flourish.
Sunday, 26 June 2011
By: DAVID SHALLENBERGER