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5 Foreign Libertarians Making a Difference Around the Globe
February 23, 2013, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

5 Foreign Libertarians Making a Difference Around the Globe:

Libertarians in the U.S. have no shortage of bad and worrying
developments to rail against; wars abroad, irresponsible government
spending, the war on drugs, and the erosion of civil liberties. But
American libertarians are not struggling against the state all by
themselves. There are libertarians everywhere, including in
countries that do not have comparatively free speech, a culture
sympathetic to markets or liberty, or our access to resources. Here
are a few global freedom-fighters worth keeping an eye on.
1. Steve Baker MP: The U.K.
Since the formation of the coalition government in 2010, Britain
has been one of the anti-austerity movement’s favorite examples of
how austerity does not work. Although the British Conservative-led
government says that it is engaging in cuts the fact is that
austerity has yet to be realized. In light of the financial crisis
the British government has engaged in pro-regulation rhetoric. For
many British libertarians, the House of Commons is a place where
few friends can be found. However, Member of Parliament Steve Baker is a welcome
exception to this trend.
Baker is a conservative disciple of the Austrian school of
economics. Before entering politics Baker worked as an Engineer
Officer in the Royal Air Force and in consulting. He also
co-founded the Cobden Centre,
which has as its vision statement:

Our vision is of a peaceful, open and free society based on a
stable, sustainable economy in which everyone has the opportunity
to participate in constantly growing real prosperity.

Baker was introduced to the Austrian business cycle
theory after the dotcom crash. He outlined his ideological
journey in
an interview
conducted shortly after being elected.
In the U.K. calls for strong state solutions to
government-created problems are tragically more common than they
are in the U.S. While much of the news coming out of the U.K. is
often depressing, to those who believe in limited government it is
reassuring to know there is at least one Member of Parliament who
understands the moral and economic superiority of free markets over
state control.
RT interviewed Steve Baker on the financial crisis and banking,
watch below:

2. Gurcharan Das: India
Recent news out of India has not been good. The
gang rape of a 23-year-old student has illustrated not only the
barbarism that is too often inflicted on innocent people, but also
the inability of Indian authorities to address the failure of their
institutions. And the recent skirmishes on the Pakistani-Indian
border are only the most recent reminder of how worryingly fragile
the border between two of the world’s nuclear powers is.
Gurcharan Das is an Indian libertarian who understands how
important legal and economic cultures are for economic prosperity.
In his book India
Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong State
, Das
argues that India’s private sector would be able to grow were
public institutions more effective. Das does not mean what many
American libertarians think when they hear the phrase “strong
state,” something that Das explained in a column for
The Times of India
:

A ‘strong state’ usually carries a bad odour, conjuring up
authoritarian images of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. A ‘liberal,
strong state’ is, however, not oppressive. It is efficient,
enabling and tough against law-breakers. It punishes the corrupt
swiftly. But it also protects liberties and dissent and enjoys
legitimacy among the governed. A strong civil society is needed to
hold such a state accountable. More than ever, Indians today need
to make a liberal case for such a strong state.

Given India’s economic potential it would be reassuring to see
the ideas of a self-described
Mises admirer
being taken seriously.

3. Manuel de Araújo:
Mozambique

Many times when free-market advocates speak to a skeptical crowd
some familiar illustrations and examples are used to demonstrate
the power of markets. One of the most striking and memorable of
these is the photograph of the Korean peninsular at night. Another
comparison that is often used is that of Hong Kong and China. Hong
Kong operates under different economic rules than China, and has
had impressive results. The special administrative regions created
by the Chinese government offer some of the best examples of how
effective markets can be in establishing prosperity.
On Africa’s east coast, in Mozambique, a young mayor might have
something similar in mind. Manuel de Araújo is the mayor of
Quelimane, located on the Indian Ocean, and is a member of the
Mozambique Democratic Movement, Mozambique’s pro-capitalism and
anti-communist party. When he became mayor of Quelimane, de Araújo
was faced with unenviable fiscal
situation
and a culture of corruption. However, within a short
amount of time de Araújo had managed to double the revenue headed
to the town’s council thanks to a crackdown on corruption. Last
August he worked with the
Language of Liberty Institute
to organize a three-day seminar
on libertarianism in Quelimane. Let’s hope some of the lessons
rubbed off.
It may be too much to expect that one mayor in Mozambique will
be able to kick-start a classical liberal revolution across a
country ruled by leftists, but it would be a great testament to de
Araújo if he is able to demonstrate the effectiveness of freedom in
a country that has known more than its fair share of big
government.
4. Mirsuljan Namazaliev:
Kyrgyzstan

The differences in the outcomes realized by post-Soviet
countries have been vast. In Eastern Europe the relative successes
of Estonia are in stark contrast to Belarus, a country still ruled
by a communist dictatorship. In Central Asia there are similar (but
perhaps not quite as dramatic) differences between countries that
used to be part of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is a dictatorship,
while Kyrgyzstan, despite its comparatively recent ethnic strifes,
has made some improvements to its record on human rights abuses as
well as economic and political freedom.
Kyrgystan is home to the Central Asian Free Market
Institute
, whose managing director is 25-year-old Mirsuljan
Namazaliev. Before managing a think tank that educates and
advocates for free markets in Central Asia, Namazaliev was an
organizer of the “I
Do Not Believe
” Campaign, which protested the outcomes of the
parliamentary elections in 2007. Taking part in these protests
resulted in Namazaliev being detained by police. He wrote an essay
on the disputed election results, his arrest, and the “I Don’t
Believe” Campaign, which can be read
here
.
Speaking to Reason Namazaliev said that he was probably
arrested 10 times and was once jailed for seven days.
On the Central Asian Free Market Institute’s website the vision
is stated clearly:

Central Asia, an oasis of freedom, prosperity and
peace 

While there is a long way to go before this vision is realized,
it’s reassuring to know a motivated young man who is no stranger to
the strong arms of big government is pursuing it.
5. Alberto Mingardi:
Italy

The euro crisis has been one of the best recent illustrations of
governments mismanaging economies. However, despite politicians
being the cause of many of Europe’s current miseries, many in
Europe still insist on advocating for government solutions, with
“austerity” being met with protests across the continent.
Thankfully there are some who speak out against the knee-jerk
tendency in Europe to look to the state for solutions. Alberto
Mingardi is the director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, Italy’s
free-market think tank, and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.
Mingardi is a refreshing voice of reason when it comes to the euro
crisis. In an article for
Forbes
from last July Mingardi nicely illustrated how
absent the necessary political culture is in Europe:

European governments are large and intrusive. Neither Italy,
France nor Spain, let alone Greece, has ever known the kind of
privatization cure Margaret Thatcher administered to Britain,
though it should be said that Italy privatized rather extensively,
in the 1990s. Despite that, the state owns insurance companies,
stakes in major energy companies, the postal service, the train
service, local transportation, a cornucopia of local “public
services” not particularly renowned for their efficiency in
delivering—but obviously dear to the political class, as a means to
keep their grip on the Italian economy. The same can be said for
other Mediterranean countries.
What is indeed astonishing is that, in this context, nobody
seems to be ready to try the straightforward device to trim the
public debt by virtue of selling the huge Italian state holdings or
severely cutting public spending. Instead, the political class
seeks to squeeze its already highly taxed citizens like lemons.

Some
have declared
the euro crisis over. The rest of 2013 will
almost certainly prove the opposite. As the euro crisis continues,
good analysis and commentary from a libertarian and European
perspective will become increasingly sought after, as well as
increasingly vindicated. Libertarians should feel reassured that
Alberto Mingardi will continue to provide a voice of sanity on a
continent that has mostly gone mad.  


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