September 11, 2017 Print

Jakarta, Indonesia, is rapidly becoming home to a movement of young people committed to the ideals of a free and open society. Nothing demonstrates that more than Students For Liberty (SFL) Indonesia’s Asia Pacific SFL Conference, recently held in Jakarta from August 18-20 under the organizing theme of “Living the Future – Technology & Innovation for a Freer Future.”

Atlas Network’s Executive Vice President for International Programs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty Dr. Tom G. Palmer spoke at last year’s conference on the topic of whether liberty was an Asian value, and contrary to the prevailing narrative that the “Asian way” of a state-led march to economic prosperity that upholds the collective above the individual, this group of over 300 undergraduate and graduate students, young professionals, and entrepreneurs who attended the conference prove that there is a ready, young audience in the region to hear out the principles of classical liberalism.

Speakers included Carmelo Ferlito, senior fellow at Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS); American economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist David Friedman; Rainer Heufers, founder and executive director of the Center for Indonesia Policy Studies (CIPS); Simon Lee, executive director of Common Ground and co-founder of the Lion Rock Institute; Daniel Issing, charter teams associate at SFL; and others.

The organizing theme of technology allowed for an accessible entryway for many conference attendees to receive the ideas of classical liberalism. Lectures about technology unlocking a freer future demonstrated how spontaneous order and decentralized learning work in real life. The growth of internet, social media, and affordable electronics have helped to bridge the gap between the powerful and the powerless. Tools such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), like CIPS’s MOOC component of its Affordable Food for the Poor project, can address knowledge gaps and encourage would-be entrepreneurs to pursue productive economic activity.