One of the most difficult tasks for the liberty movement today is persuading others of the value of free markets and free people. Even the best ideas cannot lead to greater freedom and prosperity unless others can be convinced of the value of those ideas. In Mongolia, the Silk Road Foundation uses its Free Market Academy (FMA) to overcome this challenge. The Free Market Academy is an annual five day workshop hosted in early August. The purpose is to inspire Mongolian citizens to a greater enthusiasm for liberty, free markets, and small government.
“The Free Market Academy provides people with a clear understanding of free markets, free society ideas and limited government,” explained Khaliun Chimeddorj, general manager of the Silk Road Foundation. “It gives our participants the possibility to rethink the key concepts of social systems.”
For many participants, the conference changes the way they view political and personal freedom.
“After the intensive training, most of our participants say that the training has changed their minds, views and way of thinking” Chimeddorj continued. “They have a greater understanding of the values of free markets and society. For the last two years, the majority of our participants were entrepreneurs and businessmen. That makes us happy; our work is more effective because they have a bigger impact on society. They influence their staff, family and friends. A lot of FMA 2018 participants attended the workshop at the recommendation of our previous year's participants.”
During the conference, participants heard lectures from a variety of speakers from Mongolia and around the world. Ken Schoolland, of the Centre for Civil Society, and Li Schoolland, of the Acton Institute, have been the main lecturers at FMA for the past four years. Christopher Lingle of Universidad Francisco Marroquín was also in attendance as a guest speaker this year. Lingle is a free-market economist and author of The Rise and Decline of the “Asian Century." The conference also featured Mongolia’s leading libertarian activists, including Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa (also known as Jargal DeFacto).
FMA attendees take part in discussion groups that cultivate a deep appreciation for freedom and a desire to see it expanded in Mongolia. For Chimeddorj, this is one of the best parts of the conference: “It's always nice to see our participants share their views and thoughts after lectures. They can't stop talking and debating on the ideas from the lectures.”
The program has been successful so far and the Silk Road Foundation is already planning the 2019 Free Market Academy. They are also organizing the Liberty International Conference in Ulaanbaatar in June of 2019. The Silk Road Foundation's work to make a compelling case for liberty is vital to the success of the freedom movement, both in Mongolia and around the world.