Imagine a world where the principles of classical liberalism are not just taught but lived by every individual. This vision is not just a dream, but a goal that Students For Liberty (SFL) is actively working towards – and you can be a crucial part of making it a reality.
I know this seems like an impossible accomplishment, but it has already occurred in several countries around the world.
Not only in countries with an old classical liberal tradition like England, New Zealand, and Australia, which within one generation have promoted structural reforms, but also in countries that had literally just emerged from communism, like Estonia, Georgia, and Latvia.
They all followed the same steps traced by Sir Anthony Fischer.
Fischer, an entrepreneur concerned with freedom, just like you, the reader of this article, fought in World War II as an aviator against the Nazis. When he read Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” he became overly concerned about the direction the United Kingdom had taken after the war, with the nationalization of entire sectors, control over private life, increased state power, and other issues.
Fischer went to war to fight a gigantic state, and alerted by “The Road to Serfdom,” saw the same thing that happened in Germany happen in his homeland.
His first reaction was to try to get into politics. But luckily, he decided to consult Hayek himself in his London office and asked what he thought of the idea, to which he received a provocation: “Well, but who would vote for you with these ideas?”
SFL believes that politics is a reflection of the ideals of society. For Hayek, more than changing politics, we need to change the ideas that dominate culture. That’s how we manage to make changes.
Fischer left Hayek’s office and, years later, set up an institute called the Institute of Economic Affairs.
It was this institute that edited the English version of “The Constitution of Liberty.” The same book that Margaret Thatcher took to her first meeting as Prime Minister, slammed it on the table and said, “This is what we believe!“
I am sharing this story with you because it was repeated in several countries. Like you, I want it to be repeated worldwide.
Though this journey is challenging and demands a long-term focus, it is incredibly rewarding and effective as it empowers future leaders to not only understand and defend freedom but to passionately embrace and champion it.
Mart Laar, the Estonian Prime Minister who implemented liberalizing reforms, openly said that he took ideas from Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek’s books in university exchange programs.
Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, who liberalized the country after leaving the Soviet Union? The same thing.
It was not for nothing that these leaders discovered classical liberalism at the university and applied it in life. That’s why we implement F.A. Hayek’s Theory of Social Change at SFL.
Hayek created it by analyzing how socialist ideas took over the world in the early 20th century. He noticed that ideas formed in universities and academia eventually become the dominant ideas in society. Like in this pyramid:
We are seeing this happening now. How many topics were once only discussed in the fringes of academic circles, and, today, appear every day on TV shows for millions of people?
Our intellectual elite is already being formed within universities. For the next twenty years, these will be the people who will rule the country.
And what do we have today in American universities?
- • Professors who teach that government is the solution to all problems;
- • Professors teaching that being an entrepreneur is immoral;
- • Students influenced to defend socialism;
- • Students who participate in violent and radical groups;
- • Groups that usually threaten and harass people who think differently.
On the other hand, the Harvard Business Review says American students aren’t learning essential skills to be successful in their fields. A survey quoted in the article says that “more than half (53%) of these college graduates have not applied to an entry-level job in their field because they felt unqualified.“
We spend billions on universities that do not give our young people skills and do not teach them anything about the job market.
This is bad enough, but the only thing taught there is an ideology based on resentment towards those who succeed.
When this generation fails because they were not well prepared, they will vote for the candidate who promises to take money from others and give it to them. Disturbingly, studies have shown that 70% of millennials and Gen Z have said they would consider voting for socialist candidates.
The ideologies being instilled in the youth today will shape the societies of tomorrow, making it crucial to act now and ensure that the principles of classical liberalism are not lost to the next generation.
To truly address these misguided notions, we must target them at their roots: within educational institutions. It’s a fact that ideas cultivated on college campuses resonate throughout society. These students, after all, are the future leaders and influencers, capable of steering the course of our world, for better or worse.
This is precisely the mission of SFL.
Our Local Coordinators, spread globally, are actively organizing events, educating their peers, participating in activism, and continuously honing their skills. Their objective? To emerge from their academic years not just as critics but as architects—architects of freedom and liberty.
Our leaders work, learn, and become champions of freedom. In 2022 alone, SFL leaders held 1,910 events for more than 215,000 people.
These are the people who will be reaching the top of their career in 20 years. They will be judges, politicians, doctors, university professors, economists, academic influencers, and they will defend liberty!
You might be thinking that one person can’t make a difference in the face of so many challenges. However, history has shown us that change often starts with just one person taking a stand. At SFL, we believe in the power of the individual to make a difference, and we are here to support you every step of the way.
As our Alumni can demonstrate:
• Liya Palagashvili, Ph.D. was an active Local Coordinator during her graduation. She led a project that conducted monthly webinars. Today she is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
• As the Research Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Center for State Fiscal Reform, our SFLer Thomas Savidge strives to promote tax and fiscal policies that enable us to save money, while holding the government accountable and responsible to its people.
• Dylan Dean, a Montana State University student, activist, and Students For Liberty (SFL) Regional Coordinator, gave testimony favoring free speech on campus in the State Senate and House Judiciary Committees in Montana that helped pass two bills that will guarantee protections statewide.
• Bradley Hunt, from Michigan, has a bold goal: with his project, Prisoners For Liberty, he aims to include classical liberal material in prison libraries.
• Jeremy Chandler is a finance student at Northeastern University and an up-and-coming young entrepreneur. Having realized that pro-liberty ideas could vastly improve the lives of individuals in disadvantaged neighborhoods, he founded Little Liberty, a financial consultancy dedicated to promoting financial literacy in historically underprivileged communities in the Boston metro area.
Today, freedom may seem distant, but we know how to make it possible. After all, as Milton Friedman wrote in “Capitalism and Freedom,” this is our role as champions of liberty: turning the impossible into the inevitable.
TAKE ACTION NOW
If you are a Student: Join our Local Coordinator Program to receive training, resources, and connect with liberty-minded individuals like you.
If you are a Graduate: Support us with a donation. SFL is 100% funded by individuals who admire and love liberty. We don’t accept money from government, unions, and related institutions. Every dollar counts in this battle!
Are you looking for an opportunity to gain new insights about the ideas of liberty and network with like-minded individuals? Students For Liberty’s upcoming LibertyCon International, held in Washington, D.C., on February 2-4, 2024, is an event you won’t want to miss!
LibertyCon International offers an opportunity to engage with top experts, scholars, and entrepreneurs from a variety of fields while providing a platform for attendees to connect with others who are dedicated to advancing pro-liberty ideas and creating a freer future.
Click the button below to sign up for updates and secure your spot at this exciting event. We can’t wait to see you there!
This article was originally published on the Students For Liberty website.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.