Libertarian Club Libek, an Atlas Network partner based in Belgrade, Serbia, celebrated the release of the English language translation of Abusing the People: Global Challenges of Authoritarian Populism on March 8. The book is an in-depth examination of the rise of authoritarian populism in twelve countries, among them Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey, the United States, and Venezuela. The publication is comprised of a collection of essays and interviews with authors from around the world.
"The rise of authoritarian populism is a threat to security, stability and individual freedom in the world,” said Petar Čekerevac, executive manager of Libek. “If we want to counter the agendas of authoritarian populists, we first need to understand why many people vote for them, what authoritarian populists in different countries have in common, and where they differ from each other and adapt our strategy accordingly.”
Featured in the book is an analysis of Turkey’s history and President Erdogan’s shift towards authoritarianism since 2012 by Dr. Bican Şahin, president of the Freedom Research Association; an examination of why populism persists in Venezuela by Giannina Raffo, campaign director for Centro de Divulgacion del Conocimiento Economico para la Libertad (CEDICE Freedom) and Google Fellow with the European Women’s Lobby; and an interview with Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, discussing the reemergence of Soviet strength politics by Vladimir Putin. Also included in the book are interviews with and essays by Dr. Eamonn Butler (director of the Adam Smith Institute, United Kingdom), Marek Tatala (vice president and economist at the Civil Development Forum, Poland), Zoltan Kesz (co-founder of Free Market Foundation and Member of the Hungarian Parliament, Hungary); and Dr. Tom G. Palmer, executive vice president for international programs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty at Atlas Network.
“In this publication, liberty movement leaders and experts from 12 countries speak from their expertise and experience about how to [confront authoritarian populism],” continued Čekerevac. “And they do so in a way that will appeal both to the activists within the liberty movement and people who do not come from our movement but are interested in the topic. The goal of the publication is to educate the readers about the nature of authoritarian populist movements and parties in different countries, but also to inspire thinking about strategies to counter them.”
The publication of Abusing the People is part of Libek’s wider mission to combat rising nationalistic and populist tendencies not only in Serbia, but throughout the Balkan states.
“We facilitate an expert group to analyze the myths and messages used by populists, do public opinion polls and focus groups to understand the use of economic misconceptions by populists and based on that we shape our communications strategy, our texts for the media and the videos that we produce,” Čekerevac concluded. “These videos have already earned close to 80,000 views on social media in the first two months of the year."
Libertarian Club Libek received an illiberalism grant from Atlas Network for its Abusing the People: Global Challenges of Authoritarian Populism. The illiberalism grant program is designed to help Atlas Network’s partners who are working to combat the new authoritarianism and stop the rise of illiberal statist sentiment. Petar Čekerevac won the Think Tank Shark Tank – Europe competition in 2017.