Planting Liberty’s Seeds in the Former Communist Bloc

Student graduates and a few organizers of the Gonio, Georgia “Lessons of Liberty” camp pose for a group shot. Glenn Cripe, President and Director of the Language of Liberty Institute (LLI) and ISIL Director Lobo Tiggre spoke at the Williamsburg conference about their efforts to spread libertarian ideas to groups of young people at week-long summer camps in Central and Eastern Europe. In early July of each year Cripe’s organization runs the annual (and original) “Liberty English Camp” in Lithuania. These camps were founded in 1997 by Steve Browne and ISIL’s Lithuanian Rep. Virgis Daukas – and have received along the way important assistance from many ISIL members, including Kevin Bjornson, Ken and Li Schoolland, and Lobo Tiggre. Both Cripe and Andy Eyschen joined the project in 2004, and formed LLI in 2005 to continue the camp and spread it to new countries. Jaroslav Romanchuk, another long-time member of both ISIL and LLI, runs the Mises Scientific Research Foundation in Minsk, Belarus. For several years he has brought a group of 25 Belarusian students from behind the new Iron Curtain to join 25 Lithuanians at the camp – which is usually held at the lakeside resort town of Trakai, 28 km west of Vilnius. The objective of the Liberty English Camps is to provide students in Central and Eastern Europe an opportunity to develop their English skills – via intensive interactions with native speakers (while discussing classical liberal ideas and learning more about freedom and civil society).      Texts used are libertarian-oriented – Henry Hazlitt, Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, Adam Smith, speeches by dissidents, and the like. The camps have been extremely popular with students who are hungry for the ideas of liberty and who have shown particular enthusiasm for the libertarian message. For many, the camps have been their first …