The small central European country of Slovenia, a former member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, is transitioning from its failed Marxist ideology to freer markets and a more limited state. Many Atlas partners in the region are working to introduce their fellow countrymen and former comrades to the ideas of the free society of responsible individuals. A prime example is Bogdan Sajovic, a Slovenian journalist who writes for the weekly newspaper Demokracija and the Carantania Institute .
In April, the Atlas-administered Bojan and Vida Ribnikar Fund sponsored a trip for Sajovic to visit the United States to report on the Tea Party Movement, meet fellow limited government promoters, and attend Atlas’ annual flagship event, The Atlas Experience. During his visit, Sajovic attended the well-known “Wednesday Meeting” organized by Grover Norquist at Americans for Tax Reform and was asked to speak about the nature of his work and the battle of ideas in Slovenia. In his presentation, Sajovic presented what he thought were the most salient problems in his home country:
“First, we have to make people understand that politicians are elected and paid by the people and that, once elected, they have not become hereditary monarchs but can be replaced… Second, make people understand that public servants shall serve the people (since they are paying them) and not the other way around. Third, make it clear to the people that the social state does not give anything for free, on the contrary, all the crumbs are only the remnants of what has been taken from us through taxes after the majority have been eaten up by politicians, bureaucracy and all other political hangers-on. Fourth, that a free man takes matters in his own hands, decides according to his own judgment, and does not rely on the nanny state if he wants to be free.”
Sajovic went on to tell the audience how he became involved with the Carantania Institute and how he is working to change the attitudes that do so much harm:
“Some of my articles and views, and the presentation of Milton Friedman’s work in particular, encouraged Dr. Lovro Šturm to give me the honor and invite me to work for the Carantania Institute through the mediation of Mr. Borut Prah and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The Carantania Institute will increase the frequency of spreading our views via the internet, and I am one of those who posts articles to their web site… I am so glad to have the opportunity through the Atlas Foundation to meet people of similar opinions and to acquire additional knowledge.”
In addition to sharing the current challenges to free enterprise facing Slovenia, Sajovic took home new ideas and contacts through meetings with Alex Chafuen and Leonard Liggio, participating in parts of the Atlas Think Tank MBA program, and attending The Atlas Experience, where he took full advantage of the vast Atlas network. There, he was introduced to fellow Slovenian Tanja Stumberger of the Cato Institute, who runs The Liberty Seminars in Slovenia, another project supported in part by the Bojan and Vida Ribnikar Fund. This year’s seminars focus on two topics: the first (September 14-20, 2010) focuses on rights, private property, justice, and civil society; and the second (September 22-27, 2010) will address economic and political institutions, governance and corruption, markets and morality, privatization, and crony capitalism.
In June 2010, Atlas President Alex Chafuen traveled to Slovenia to meet again with Sajovic and visit with members of the Carantania Institute. Chafuen was introduced to various groups and individuals involved in promoting free markets in the region, including university professors, law students, think tank representatives, and journalists. Working with old allies and new friends, Atlas and the Bojan and Vida Ribnikar Fund continue to catalyze, connect and foster the relationships that strengthen the Slovenian movement for liberty. As the ideas of freedom and individualism become more popular in central Europe, the drive to create change in policy and civil society will grow ever stronger.