April 2, 2019 Print

When someone thinks of the worldwide freedom movement, the Eastern European nation of Serbia is probably not a country that immediately comes to mind. The group Libertarian Club Libek has been working to promote freedom in Serbia and was recently highlighted in the media outlet Balkan Insight, the most influential English language website covering the Balkans.

The article tracks the grassroots libertarian movement in Serbia by highlighting the work that Libek is doing. In addition to this, Balkan Insight charts the trajectory of classical liberalism in the Balkans, while discussing several challenges facing the ideology today.

The political climate in Serbia is not generally geared towards the free market. Historically, the Serbian people’s conception of capitalism has been tainted by a rigged political system and cronyism, which makes the general public more inclined to view their socialist past favorably.

But the libertarian movement in Serbia is actively working to change this mindset.

“The point is not to force [libertarianism] into Serbian culture but to recognize the elements that are compatible with it here… and then see how those ideas are best adapted to Serbia,” explained Petar Čekerevac, the executive manager of Libek.

With the heavily polarized political climate in Serbia, Libek believes that the promotion of classical liberal ideas is critical now more than ever. The hope is that recent media coverage will actively promote freedom. “We want to pierce [ideological] bubbles, be provocative and politically incorrect...and push a narrative that is meta-ideological: the narrative of freedom,” said Libek president Milos Nikolic.

“The article is an indicator of the growing interest in the work of Libek and the ideas of classical liberalism,” Čekerevac continued. “As such, it will contribute to the overall public awareness about these ideas and serve as a great starting point for wider audience engagement.”

For a public that often has difficulty accessing alternative viewpoints to those held by those in political power, the publication by Balkan Insight is a valuable means to disseminate information about libertarianism to new audiences.

“People are always saying that they want more freedom and would fight for freedom… but they tend to always provide you with a manual of how they expect you to behave to be ‘free,’” Nikolic concluded. “That’s the paradox inside even much of our ‘liberal’ public.”

While there is work left to do, the recent media coverage of Serbia’s liberty movement provides Libek with a valuable opportunity to springboard the movement. “Now is the time to talk to wider audiences and explain the classical liberal narrative to thought leaders and the majority of citizens of Serbia who are not professionally involved in politics,”  said Čekerevac. “By focusing on political culture in Serbia and challenging the dominant political narratives we are working ‘upstream of politics’ to establish a basis from which emerging leaders of the freedom movement can bring about fundamental reform.”