SANTIAGO DE CHILE.- “We have to get rid of the label of elite people, of men in a boring jacket and tie. We have to make liberalism sexy.” A provocative phrase, thrown in the middle of the Liberty Forum 2018 of Atlas Network and Foundation for Progress Chile, which could have been coined by the Argentine liberal Javier Milei, the new media star. Only that it came out of the mouth of the Chilean liberal, neat and correct, that all Argentine middle-class moms sigh to have as their son-in-law: Axel Kaiser. A not insignificant tip coming from one of the members of one of the most successful think tanks in communication, outreach and fundraising in the region: Fundación para el Progreso. A member who also has the luxury of having bestsellers as “The populist deception” (along with another great spokesperson of our ideas, Gloria Alvarez) and scratch 1 million views on YouTube for their participation in a program of high rating of the Argentine television (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_G-WDpk11g ) without falling into vulgarity.
But, leaving the glare that the figure of Kaiser produces in any woman, we list a couple of useful tips for members of the RELIAL Network that are trying to get out of the margin to get there the difficult, unattainable and elusive “mainstream”:
1) The ideas matter, of course, but it is important how we transmit them and reach everyone: “I was always struck by the fact that there was too much suit, too much hair, too much parsimony as if liberalism was something old. There was one thing that liberals were very cerebral and unmoving. The point is to make liberalism something sexy for the people, something close “
2) Aesthetics are important: “You look at the aesthetics of the left and attract young people. The guys play guitar, they do parties, they’re half-hearted. Young people are attracted to much more than we in suits talking about economic freedom. That is not bad in itself, but we have to make an effort to be more attractive. Ask yourself if the way you talk about things and present yourself to the media is attractive. We need something fresh, fun, with energy, to be interesting, to stop to see each other. Show that liberalism is not the ideology of the elite, which is for everyone”
3) Simplify the message: “The very academic thing, very sophisticated, does not work. That part is important, of course, but we must also reinforce the message that reaches ordinary people. For example, use Messi when we talk about poverty and inequality. The numbers matter because they give us rigor, but we have to add the other ingredient. The Javier Milei case is worthy of study. It makes pop liberalism, metalhead, irreverent. Of course, we need teachers to write papers, but we also need many spokespersons like Milei o Gloria Alvarez, who opened many doors for us, Juan Ramón Rallo in Spain. Following that line another interesting guy is Ivan Carrino, a person who has moved the hornet’s nest”
4) The model is Milton Friedman: For Kaiser the Chicago economist is a role model. “He mixed the academy, with programs on TV, articles, he was very busy disseminating ideas to ordinary people without losing the level”
5) Do not be afraid of criticism from others: “They will always criticize you, especially on your own side. You do not have to stop criticism, there will always be. There is a lot of envy and people who say that because you go to the media you are not very serious. There are also honest critiques and you have to listen to them. But falling into the competition of egos is useless “
EDUCATION AND IDEAS MATTER … MUCH
Ramón Parellada is one of the directors of la Marroquín, that focus of liberal thought initiated by Manuel Ayau, the Chicago libertarian and tropical whose classrooms were paraded by the most outstanding intellectuals of Latin liberalism. Parellada is happy because the libertarian Chicago in October will be based in Madrid. The conquest of the Old World by the New World (liberal), exactly 526 years after Columbus made the reverse way.
Some concepts of Parellada for RELIAL’s liberal think tank:
1) “La Marro was founded to disseminate among people the principles of a free and open society. Thus was born. Through his careers he prepares people for the students to spread the principles of liberalism in their works (media, government, companies). And we not only have students from our country, but from other Latin countries and now we are opening a headquarters in Madrid, since the security problems of my country discourage many from coming”
2) “At the beginning, Ayau thought about making a newspaper. But then it was decided by the university to plant the seed of liberalism in the minds that afterwards works for governments, banks, companies. Hayek himself told Ayau to make a university and only admit the best, to increase the chances of success in disseminating ideas. Today we have graduates in all areas with our ideas and holding back the initiatives of the State to become bigger. We still need more critical mass with respect to state universities that are Marxist. But it is important to have a foot in education”
3) “You have to venture into the culture. We gave economics seminars on journalism, but it did not seem enough. We started the journalism career but it cost us to fill it. We have to restructure that. And that led us to think that there are many misconceptions about economics and entrepreneurship in the popular imagination. And we see it a lot in the cinema. So three years ago we opened the school of cinema at the university, with directors from USA and Europe, of excellent quality. We are very happy with the result. We are doing our bit in the world of culture, which is dominated by the left. Now we are going to venture into videogames, which is a much bigger industry than the cinema”
EMPLOYERS, PAYERS AND HEROES
Pablo Arosemena, from the Chamber of Commerce of Guayaquil, was another one who gave very applicable advice for RELIAL thinktanks. Arosemena is one of the brains behind the fantastic move of his camera to rescue the value of the entrepreneur before the Ecuadorian society, and the move “My money for my children”, which stopped a brutal increase in the inheritance tax that was planned at the time by the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. Some tips of Arosemena were:
1) “It is important to rescue the pride of being an entrepreneur because the honest businessman/trader is our ally. Be small, medium or large. Because being an entrepreneur is not easy, so we decided to revindicate the role of the entrepreneur in an open society. That is why we send a letter to each one, invoking their contribution, thanking them for generating solutions for society. And as a bonus, we send you a sticker that says “Heroes of Commerce”, to put in your shop window or at the door of the company. As the months went by, we saw thousands of offices and locations with the sticker attached. Even a shopping mall made a giant sign with the sticker legend”.
2) “Another hit of our group was the campaign “My work is for my children”. Years ago Correa wanted to put the tax on inheritance with the highest marginal rate in the world, of 75%. Talking in a village, a lady told us: “I work a lot but I want the fruit of my work to be for my children, not for the Government”. And there we get the slogan “My work is for my children”. We used it in the networks, we went with posters to the streets and to the TV, and the people caught on, and after a decade of success passing reforms, Correa failed for the first time “
3) “A business camera is a natural ally of the struggle for freedom. They can be allies in battle. We were cheated, so we decided to change things from within. The most important thing that I advise RELIAL partners is to be concrete by selling what is intangible, that is freedom. We must value the freedom we have, not value it when we have already lost it. Freedom is what we need to progress and that we have to tell more people. “
INFLUENCE IN SOCIETY TO INFLUENCE IN POLICY
Bettina Horst, of Libertad y Desarrollo of Chile, shared her long-standing expertise in dealing with politics and the means to win the battle of ideas. Some of its concepts for RELIAL partners were:
1) “You can not ask the political world to immolate itself for a subject when public opinion goes the other way. For leaders to follow our ideas we have to influence public opinion. The politicians are not the little fish that jump from the fish tank, they are the little fish that jump behind other opinion leaders. Politicians are not leaders, they are followers, in general”
2) “The area of communication is as important as the parliamentary follow-up. Those in the government know that your organization is watching them and can go out and answer them in the press and that acts as a counterbalance. You have to see the strategy, language, etc. And keep an eye on independence: the closer the government is to your organization, things have to be said no matter what.”
3) “Some key things that we see in communication: see what topics we are going to get in the year, the main issues, and take advantage of every contact with the press to get our issues and anticipate. Having a good planning of issues is important. You have to take every opportunity to put your own themes, such as Indexes, surveys, etc. Another thing is to have a relationship of trust with the media. Let the media call you to understand a tax reform, for example. They have to have intellectual confidence in you, that you are not going to do politics with the subject, that you are going to tell them facts. That helped us a lot to make our place in the media. When it comes to the Budget, which is an important issue for LyD, we hold meetings with journalists, teaching them to understand the Budget, what to look for, etc. And that builds the relationship with journalism.”
These were just some of the tips that experts from around the world shared with the attendees of the Liberty Forum in Santiago, Chile, for a single common purpose: to make the message of the benefits of freedom reach all possible hearts, and fall in love forever and forever.
By Mercedes Colombres (Special coverage for RELIAL / Libertad y Progreso)