THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Albania Celebrates a Historic Moment of Freedom From Tyranny

Over the centuries, Albania has always been a freedom-loving country. Despite its small size, it has played a crucial role in preserving individuality, defending its freedom and also that of neighbouring countries. It wasn’t always so. In 1355, when Serbian Emperor Stefan Duscan died, Albania was thrown into chaos. Feuding noblemen established their own dominions. When Ottoman forces entered Albania, they were faced with small principalities that were engaged in vicious fights among themselves. Consequently, in the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire established itself in the Balkans with little resistance. Local Christian nobles were still fighting amongst themselves and didn’t see the advance of the Ottoman Empire as a threat to their power. Instead of seizing the opportunity to repel the Ottomans, some Serbs and Hungarians even helped the future Sultan Mohammed I seize power. Freedom for the Albanian people came through the military leader, Skanderbeg. Born in 1405 to the noble Kastrioti family, in a village in Dibra, Skanderberg was taken hostage by the Sultan at the age of 18 and served the Ottoman Empire for the next twenty years. He deserted in 1443 with 300 other Albanians. They captured Kruja and declared its independence from the Sultan. On this day in history, March 2, 1444, Skanderbeg called the Albanian princes to Lezha to unite the country. Skanderbeg’s example gave impetus to the liberation movements in Central and Northern Albania. In spite of the discord among the princes, they founded a federation of independent rulers, which went down in history by the name of the League of Lezha. The League followed a common foreign policy, jointly defended their independence, and contributed their armed forces to the alliance. At the same time, each clan kept its possessions and exercised its autonomy in solving internal problems, keeping Albanians free. For the …

Head of Dutch Libertarian Party Arrested Just Weeks Before Election

The former chairman of the Dutch Libertarian Party, Toine Manders has been kidnapped in Cyprus by the FIOD (the Dutch IRS) and is currently locked away in the Netherlands in complete isolation (aside from his lawyer), in an undisclosed location. He is being held for an extended 90-day period, the charges for which are unknown. Toine Manders began his career by giving legal advice, through his company HJC, to young Dutch men who wanted to avoid military conscription. He helped roughly 6,000 men avoid being trained as hit-men for the government. The mainstream media jumped on this, calling them ‘refusal yuppies’, who used legal loopholes to evade their duty to the country. After military conscription was suspended in 1996, Toine’s company moved on to help businesses avoid taxes through strictly legal methods. In the Netherlands, the combined pressures of income tax, VAT, inheritance tax, inflation, and other forms of taxation add up to an astounding 80%, according to calculations by Amsterdam professor Roel Beetsma. Legal tactics of avoiding taxes are widely used by large corporations like Starbucks, Apple and Ikea, however, Toine Manders had attracted special attention from the government by running controversial ads that stated “Taxation is theft”. The ads went on to say that it was people’s moral duty to pay as little in taxes as possible, as the government is a criminal enterprise. Unable to hire teams of accountants to do it for them, Toine also tried to help smaller business make use of legal tax avoidance methods. The first signs of government backlash appeared in 2008 when his radio commercial ‘taxation is theft’ was banned by the Reclame Code Commissie (Commercial Ethics Commission) on the basis of being ‘in violation of decency’, along with a defense of the social contract. For fear of losing their licenses …

Language of Liberty Institute (LLI) Events in December 2013

Following the camps in Ethiopia, we headed to the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the Language of Liberty Institute’s first event in that country. The 2-day seminar on Liberty and Entrepreneurship was organized by two previous Liberty Camp students, Edo Omerčević from the local economic think tank Centar za poslovnu afirmaciju and Admir Čavalić from the local NGO Multi. Both men are founders of their respective organizations and very active in the promotion of liberty and free enterprise . Some 16 students attended the seminar and we enjoyed instructive discussions on the current state of Bosnia in terms of ease of doing business, taxation, bureaucracy, and government interference in the lives of people generally. Unfortunately, Bosnia’s ratings on these issues are among the lowest in Europe and it is not easy to start a new business. A few of the students were actual entrepreneurs, mainly in the IT industry, and the obstacles that government bureaucracy places in their way are  very counterproductive and will not help the country in its economic development. Bosnia is still recovering from its recent tragic history of the mid-1990s and we had the opportunity visit the Srebrenica Gallery with its haunting images of the 13 July 1995 massacre of thousands of people in this village not that far from the Bosnian capital. The Old Town of Sarajevo was more positive, with mosques, a synagogue, an Orthodox church and a Roman Catholic cathedral all in close proximity to each other, demonstrating the traditional atmosphere of tolerance and pluralism. This year, Sarajevo will be remembered for the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand on 28th June, that triggered  World War I. There is certainly a lot of history here and not far from Tirana, Albania, the location for this year’s ISIL World Liberty Summit from 28 to31 August – an …

Need an example of free market policies in action? Have a look at Georgia

I first went to Georgia for a Liberty Camp in the summer of 2007 that was jointly organised by ISIL and the New Economic School of Georgia. At the time the country hadn’t seemed particularly free-market, but in the years since a few people have said to me that it has seen extraordinary levels of privatisation making Georgia one of the best current examples of the free market. Luckily for us, Gia Jiandieri, the Vice-President of NES, together with Neil Emerick of the Free Market Foundation, has recently come out with an article to enlighten us on the brilliant changes that have taken place in the country. [emphasis added] […] By 2003, the public had lost complete faith in public institutions, then president Eduard Shevardnadze resigned and a reform government was elected in what came to be known as the “Rose Revolution”. The new government saw its country at rock bottom and decided radical reform of the business environment was required. The priorities for economic recovery and reform included liberalising the tax system, deregulation, making the process of starting a business easier, high-speed privatisation and public-sector reforms that included eliminating corruption, lowering the number of state agencies and downsizing the rest. In the area of tax reform, personal income tax was decreased from 20% to a top, flat rate of 12%. Social taxes went from 31% to 20% and were then abolished. Value-added tax was lowered from 20% to 18%. Corporate tax was reduced to 15%, while dividend tax came down to 5%. The total number of taxes was reduced from 22 to six. In 2011, Georgia adopted the Economic Liberty Act, which prohibits government spending of more than 30% of GDP, a budget deficit of more than 3% and public debt of more than 60% of GDP. Impressive reforms were …

Announcing Project: FREE MARKET LIBRARY

[alert style=”yellow”] Project Period: First phase (Sep 2013 – Dec 2014)[/alert] This project aims at promoting the Liberal Free Market literature, through translating into Albanian and publishing of such books, to help students of Economic, Law and Political and Social Studies Faculties during their Bachelor and Master/Doctorate studies for general and specific knowledge, and for their theses. It will also address to Albanian readers and Business Associations, because our book market lacks this kind of literature. These books, for some of which the centre has the copyright, are taken from classical and up-to-date liberal literature, and are included into the curricula of many international universities, so this project aims also to do this, in cooperation with respective university chairs, by propagating and discussing this kind of literature in various activities such as organizing the Open Evenings with students and professors. The books will be distributed to every library of public and private universities and also to city bookshops. Up to now, two books from Free Market Odyssey have already been published, with the help of ISIL – International Society for Individual Liberty: – The Aventurat e Xhonathan Gullible (revised) by Ken Schoolland; – Anthem by Ayn Rand. The first phase of the project will start with other publications, as follows: – Beyond Democracy by Frank Karsten; – The Logic of Classical Liberalism by Jacque de Guenin; – The Law by Frederic Bastiat; – The Free Market and its Enemies by Ludvig von Mises; – Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt; – Libertarianism by David Boaz; For the moment, we are working with the translation of the first two books and also looking for grants to publish them within 2013. [toggle title=”Organizer information” state=”closed”] Organization: CENTER “OPEN EDUCATION ALBANIA”, Address: Rr. Abdyl Frasheri, Pall. de Rada, Njesia 4. Project manager: KOZETA …

A Fantastic Week of Liberty and Entrepreneurship in Ponikiew, Poland

This year’s Liberty English Camp in Poland was strategically held right after the biggest libertarian conference Poland has ever seen – the European Students for Liberty Regional Conference in Krakow. That successful event brought nearly 120 young, passionate freedom lovers to attend a great conference, enlarge their networks, and simply to have fun. It is not a coincidence that I am mentioning the ESFL conference when talking about our Liberty English Camp, because as they were just one day apart we were able to share a few speakers and also a number of students. The conference built the perfect foundation for the Camp. On Sunday, September 8th, 20 students from 4 countries (Estonia, Germany, Nigeria, Poland) and 6 moderators from 6 countries (Belarus, Ethiopia, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, United States) gathered in the picturesque village of Ponikiew, 7km from Wadowice, Pope John Paul II’s hometown. Introductions were made around the fire and with a wonderful barbeque. It was Monday when the official program began. Activities were divided into lectures on classical liberal fundamental principles, discussions in small groups, guest lectures, workshops, movie screenings, and student debates. The program was very packed, but we still found time for sport (tennis, volleyball, swimming pool) and late night discussions. The camp’s program was very intense. Classes on classical liberal principles were conducted by Glenn Cripe, executive director of Language of Liberty Institute and Jaroslav Romanchuk, head of the Mises Scientific Center in Belarus. Students had a chance to explore philosophical background and learn about the proper role of government as envisioned by the most prominent liberal/libertarian thinkers. Beyond ideology, an important stress was made on the importance of entrepreneurship as an independent way of living. This year’s camp was host to an amazing line up of speakers, all promoting that message:  Michael Severance of …

And This Year’s ISIL Liberty Award Goes to…

The late ISIL director Bruce Evoy established the Marshall Bruce Evoy Memorial Award to honor ISIL members who had done special work to advance liberty despite substantial personal sacrifice and/or in difficult circumstances. This year’s Evoy Award, presented at the banquet in Lausanne, went to Kozeta Cuadari-Cika, ISIL Rep for Albania, one of the poorest and politically volatile countries in Europe. Kozeta began her libertarian activities around 1997, just after an economic crisis and civil war in Albania,working for an economics thinktank led by Zef Preci.  She has helped the Liberal Club and the European Libertarian University in Tirana, and has translated and published two editions of Ken Schoolland’s The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free-Market Odyssey and also published an Albanian version of Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Kozeta plans to submit a formal bid to host an ISIL international conference in Tirana.  

Recap of the ISIL 2013 International Libertarian Conference

Thanks to a generous grant from the Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i and the Koch Foundation I was able to attend the ISIL’s 2013 International Libertarian Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. I am sincerely thankful to the Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i for giving me the opportunity to join this conference. The information that I learned, and connections that I made during my time there, is extremely valuable and useful to me. I also need to thank ISIL, the International Society for Individual Liberty, for hosting an amazing event, which was well structured, and ran like Swiss clockwork. The structure of the conference was very nice for networking and learning from the speakers. There were more than 22 presentations, and each presentation was around half an hour long. After three presentations there was a coffee or lunch break, followed by a panel made up of the speakers from the previous three presentations. At the end of the day we would all gather in a café to have a round table discussion regarding a topic that was chosen by the attendees during the coffee breaks. I really liked this structure because it gave attendees the opportunity to ask the speakers a question during their Q&A panel, or approach them during the coffee breaks. The round table discussions in the café were especially interesting because everyone was encouraged to add to the discussion, and the topics were very stimulating and thought-provoking. It truly was an ‘international’ conference, hosting speakers and attendees from all around the world. There were speakers from various European countries, the United States, Guatemala, Singapore, Japan, and even North Korea. There were several organizations being represented at the conference, and it was nice to learn about all the great work these organizations are doing to promote liberty around the world, but it …

2013 World Conference to be Held in Lausanne, Switzerland

The ISIL 2013 World Conference has been confirmed for the beautiful lakeside city of Lausanne, Switzerland, near Geneva. Arrival is Wednesday, August 21st, with a reception in the evening. The main conference program runs from Thursday morning the 22nd into Sunday afternoon the 25th. As always, there is a powerful speaker lineup (many of them already shown on the conference website), plus the chance to see old liberty-loving friends from around the world, and to make new ones. Meeting these fascinating freedom-lovers is always an exhilarating experience! Not to mention that this is also a special chance to see one of the world’s most beautiful countries. A bargain fee of just CHF$135 (or about USD143 – with a discount for young people) – covers the full 4-day conference program, all coffee breaks, plus the gala banquet! Go to the Lausanne Conference website for lots more details and to register. There are hotels and restaurants for a variety of budgets and tastes around the conference venue. Hotel details and many other travel tips are now on the Lausanne Conference website. Conference Scholarship Funds Needed! We also want to bring in students and young activists, especially from Eastern Europe. Past recipients have frequently gone home and created or expanded networks, organizations and publishing projects. We seek to raise $40,000 to bring in 50 students. This is a great investment in ISIL’s “Johnny Appleseed” strategy and the future growth of world liberty. Scholarships and other contributions to ISIL are tax-deductible in the USA.