It may not seem like an obvious choice for a libertarian conference in Brazil to choose the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution as a theme, but the organizers of II Conferência Atlantos, sponsored in April by Instituto Atlantos in Porto Alegre, believe that the decades of oppression and mass death that resulted in the Soviet Union provide a crucial cautionary tale for modern Brazil’s socialist tendencies. More than 500 people attended the event, which also received local television and radio coverage.
“As the theme suggests — ‘1917-2017: from the State Revolution to the Market Revolution’ — we want to counter the ideas that generated the Soviet model and its consequences to what we call today’s ‘silent revolutions,’ among which we can highlight the current level of poverty elimination and several disruptive innovations in the economy through the use of new technologies,” said João Bastos, president of Instituto Atlantos (translated from Portuguese). “Therefore, while discussing the Russian Revolution and its consequences, we also want to trace the institutional changes and ideas that have brought us to Brazil, and the world, today.”
II Conferência Atlantos is the second annual edition of this event, sponsored in part by a grant from Atlas Network. Speakers included Tom G. Palmer, Atlas Network’s George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty and executive vice president for international programs; Michael Matheson Miller, researcher at the Acton Institute and producer of the film Poverty, Inc.; Agustín Etchebarne, director general Libertad y Progreso in Argentina; Rodrigo Saraiva Marinho, member of the board of directors for Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil; and many more.
“It's 100 years since what people falsely called the Russian Revolution, because … after the revolution, a small group of violent people took over power, the Bolshevik Party, and called it the Russian Revolution,” Palmer said, introducing his remarks. “It was a coup d’état, and they began brutally to execute their opponents and to build a new state based on abolishing the market entirely. It came apart. It collapsed, and I want to reflect on why that happened.” Palmer’s full speech, posted to the Instituto Atlantos Facebook page, is embedded below.
Instituto Atlantos holds regular meetings in Porto Alegre that are open to the public, and its events have attracted an estimated 5,000 people so far. The organization’s Facebook page attracts 40,000 people daily, and another 10,000 weekly through its website.
“Usually Brazilian universities are pretty Marxist and unfriendly to liberty in general,” Bastos said. “Many times we heard people saying that we ‘saved their universities’ by bringing libertarian ideas.”