July 6, 2016 Print

Libertarian and classical liberal ideas are far less prevalent in some areas of the world than others. Sometimes these ideas face hostility from local customs, traditions, political history, or ideological opponents — but often, millions of people residing in these regions have never been exposed to the ideas of liberty at all. That’s why In Many Languages, an online Atlas Network initiative, is working to jump-start the liberty movement in such areas by providing Internet platforms in several underrepresented languages, such as Urdu, Vietnamese, Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, and several more. These websites not only provide translations of the works of classical liberal scholars known throughout the world, they also highlight the work of native speakers who represent the local roots of liberty in their cultures.

“Today’s challenge worldwide for advocates of liberty and the rule of law is to identify in myriad cases the local roots in each culture of constitutional restraint on power and respect for the right to freedom, and to connect those historical roots to the contemporary universal libertarianism that is spreading worldwide,” wrote Dr. Tom Palmer, Atlas Network’s executive vice president for international programs, in his 2015 essay about the history and importance of Magna Carta. “Those roots are definitely there to be excavated, not only in the history of the English-speaking peoples, but everywhere we care to look. ... Liberty under the rule of law is not merely an English birthright; it is a human birthright.”

Palmer has led efforts in establishing these online platforms since the launch of In Many Languages. Three of these successful platforms are bringing the language of liberty to Vietnamese with DoiMoi.org, Bahasa Indonesia with SuaraKebebasan.org, and Hindi with Azadi.me.

Đổi mới & Phát triển (“Reform & Development”)

DoiMoi.org is a Vietnamese website dedicated to informing the Vietnamese population about classical liberal philosophy and how it may be successfully applied to Vietnam. Launched in 2009, it promotes “the free exchange of ideas, the values ​​of the free enterprise system, the rule of law, and the importance of the individual choice in an open and prosperous community” (translated from Vietnamese).

Integral to the mission of DoiMoi.org is the provision of Vietnamese translations of such influential works as The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty by Nobel laureate economist Friedrich A. Hayek, The Law by Frédéric Bastiat, On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, and more. Cong Minh Nguyen has been editor of DoiMoi.org since it launched, and he currently works to translate free-market books into Vietnamese. Each translated work is available as a viewable document on the website.

DoiMoi.org also translates relevant foreign news articles for its forum while providing its own reviews and commentary concerning policy, the economy, and international affairs. Other major projects of DoiMoi.org are its Freedom Schools for Students and Freedom on the Road Seminars. One summer school program, titled “The Foundation of the Market Economy,” has been held in the Thái Nguyên province for the past five years, providing university students throughout Vietnam with the opportunity to learn more about market economics.

SuaraKebebasan.org (“Voice of Freedom”)

The vision of SuaraKebebasan.org is to increase awareness among Indonesian youth about the value of freedom, and to promote classical liberal thought within Indonesia. It educates Indonesian youth about the ideas of liberty through its news publications, online forum, podcasts, and social media.

SuaraKebebasan.org publishes opinion pieces and news updates regularly. One recent story concerns the shortcomings of minimum wage laws as tools to combat poverty in Indonesia. Another examined Bastiat’s admonition to consider both “that which is seen and that which is unseen” in the recent proposal to ban the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol in Indonesia. The platform additionally publishes reviews of books and movies. One recent piece, written by Adinda Muchtar, chief editor at Suarakebebasan.org, reviewed The Nordic Gender Equality Paradox. Movies reviewed include The Big Short.

The SuaraKebebasan.org podcast has hosted such illustrious guests as Poltak Hotradero, head of the research division at PT Indonesia Stock Exchange; Difa Kusumadewi, founder and president of Menrva Foundation for Science and Reason; and Tom G. Palmer. SuaraKebebasan.org’s active Facebook and Twitter profiles keep their followers informed on the daily happenings of the freedom movement on the ground in Indonesia.

Azadi.me (“Freedom”)

Azadi.me, edited by Avinash Chandra, is the Hindi language platform of Centre for Civil Society (CCS), an Atlas Network partner organization based in New Delhi, India, and developed as a joint initiative with Atlas Network and the Cato Institute. In addition to providing analysis of current events, it also features several notable classical liberal and Indian philosophers.

Similar to DoiMoi.org, Azadi.me provides translations of famous liberal texts by thinkers like Bastiat and Lawrence W. Reed, president of the Foundation for Economic Education. The public policy discussion section of the site covers several issue areas, including energy, rule of law, education, and trade.

Azadi.me parent organization CCS is one of the premier think tanks in India, which advocates social change through public policy. One of its major projects has been the School Choice Campaign, which has seen significant success that includes several Indian states reforming and liberalizing their education systems. Another CCS campaign, Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood, seeks to eradicate barriers to market entry in order to promote freedom of enterprise for street entrepreneurs.