2008 OCTOBER NEWSLETTER
In July my family all used The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey (JG) in teaching at various youth conferences and camps across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Language of Liberty Camp, originally founded by Virgis Daukas and Stephen Browne fifteen years ago for the youth of Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland, remains as strong as ever. The week-long event at a lake resort near Trakai Castle was sponsored this year by the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL), Lobo Tiggre, Doug Casey, Virgis Daukas, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, the von Mises Center of Minsk, and other organizations.
In addition to various talks on economics and political philosophy, we used selected chapters from JG for skits, discussions, and debates on numerous topics about innovation, taxes, prohibition, protectionism, inflation, civil liberties, immigration, trade, etc. Other teachers, speakers, and organizers were Judy Nagy, Andy Eyschen, Jaroslav Romanchuk, and Mary Lou Gutscher.
Judy, a great champion of liberty traveling from Quito, Ecuador, presented the “government plan” to all the attending students. In small discussion and lecture groups throughout the week, Judy instructed attendees on the philosophical basis of a limited government. Judy is the original translator of the Spanish edition of JG.
My family was then guided by Virgis on a trek to Tallinn for a presentation on free market education to a combined meeting of the Estonian Free Society Institute and the Liberal Youth Club, organized by Paul Vahur. Paul says they are set to publish an Estonian edition of JG in the near future. Tallinn was the site of the “Singing Revolution” that brought liberation from the Soviet Union in 1992. For a DVD of this superb documentary by Maureen and James Tusty see SingingRevolution.com. Along with others, the film was supported by Thor Halvorssen and the Moving Pictures Institute.
We then headed to Bakuriani, Georgia, for the Lessons of Liberty Camp in the Caucasus Mountains of the former Soviet Union. We were hesitant to travel to Georgia with newspaper headlines warning of impending war in the region.
Russia moved troops and aircraft divisions to the border in support of a separatist movement in Abkhasia and protestations over scheduled Georgian membership in NATO. Georgia withdrew the ambassador from Moscow. But when we arrived we found life as normal.
The war didn’t break out until the week after we left, with reports of tanks moving into South Ossetia and Russian bombing just two kilometers from the Tbillisi airport from which we had just departed. Some of our students have since reported bombings within 20 meters of their car and neighbors killed when their apartment building was bombed. All air and ground transportation was halted.
Before all this, forty students and staff from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and the Ukraine were sponsored by the New Economic School of Georgia (NESG), Lobo Tiggre, Doug Casey, and ISIL for a week of speaking English in the context of the literature and ideas of liberty.
At all of these events across Eastern Europe, Vince Miller was remembered as the heroic figure of networking and support through his work as President of ISIL. Without his tireless dedication to spreading the ideas of liberty, most of the organizers would not have met and JG would not have spread around the world. Vince’s passing was a tragic and deeply sad moment for us all.
As at the camp in Batumi in the summer of 2007, JG was used in setting the foundation for many of the lessons. Paata Sheshelidze, Gia Jandieri, Kevin Bjornson, Lobo Tiggre, and Li Schoolland organized a spectacular week of activity that led to significant gains in political maturity in the ideas of freedom. My daughter, Kenli, and I conducted surveys using questions derived from the Nolan Chart of personal and economic freedom to determine the attitudes of students before and after.
Political Classification Percentage
The NESG also distributed copies of the Georgian edition of JG for interested students. This was a publication project of Paata that has been used throughout the past year to prompt discussions and debates about free markets, civil liberties, and the philosophy of liberty.
Similar camps have been organized this summer by Glenn Cripe and the Language of Liberty Institute in Slovakia, Poland, and Ghana. Sponsors have also included ISIL, Jeff Crawford, and others.
Following the Georgian camp my family headed to Baku, Azerbaijan, where we made presentations to the Liberal Youth at a meeting hosted by Wolfgang John, Arastun Orujlu, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF). The FNF has also expressed interest in publishing an Azeri edition of JG. The message of free markets through satire is often most appreciated in countries that do not yet fully allow personal freedom of expression.
We met with an independent reporter who told us of some ghastly stories of what can happen to those who openly criticize the government. The number of arrests and harassment doubled in the past year and the number of critical news stories has plummeted. Journalists, publishers, and opposition groups are offered a carrot (high pay to work for a government newspaper or affiliated organizations) and a stick (i.e. beatings, stabbings, and arrests on trumped-up charges) immediately after critical news stories appear in print.
We also met a lawyer who is renowned as the first to succeed against the Azeri government in a case that was brought before the International Court of Human Rights. She scored a great victory, but only after the offending journalist had already spent eight years in prison.
Acquaintances in Baku hinted that my email correspondence might even be monitored and they joke that, in all email messages, one should extend a personal greeting to the folks in state security who are monitoring all suspicious outside communication. As in China, people are generally left alone so long as they don’t threaten the power structure. Sadly, it seems that the powerful elite are the ones benefiting the most by the nation’s vast oil riches.
Some of my jovial students told of their recent arrest for a simple patriotic demonstration. These liberal youth were very courageous, indeed! On the birthday of the first president of the independent Azerbaijan Republic, these students placed flowers at his memorial and gave interviews to the invited media.
A democratic Azerbaijan once had a very short period of independence from Russia in 1918. This lasted only two years before the country was again occupied by the communists of the Soviet Union. Soviet domination ended with the collapse of the USSR in 1992, but authoritative control is still entrenched.
The police intended to arrest just a couple of the student leaders, but a couple dozen others expressed solidarity and insisted that all be arrested. The arresting officer personally told one of them that he thought they were patriots, but still no demonstrations could be allowed.
The arrest of a student risks the loss of one’s academic standing and whole career, but these students weren’t deterred. They even made a party of it, ordering take-out pizza and offering it to the police at the station. I was astounded at the bravado these students showed. I wonder if the youth of America would show such bravado in the face of tyranny?
JG publications have enabled me to meet many courageous people. This past year we met Mirsulzhan Namazaliev (photo, center) in Kyrgyzstan. He is a terrific libertarian activist and organizer who has also helped to promote the Kyrgyz edition of JG to the rural regions of the country.
A few months ago he wrote of his arrest for protesting the rigged elections in Bishkek, “…we were sentenced to be in jail for 7 days. We were arrested twice. The youth protest called ‘I don’t believe’ was the result and the reaction of young freedom activists in response to the dirty, unfair, and corrupted parliamentary elections, when the party of the President, created just 3 months ago, won. The time I spent in the jail was one of the important days in my life. There I realized how my liberty is invaluable, how the liberties of my fellows are also invaluable. When I was released, I looked on this world a little differently, with more understanding of the philosophy of liberty.”
We also met Atilla Yayla (below) in Turkey at his camp last summer in Cesme, Turkey. Atilla is a very courageous libertarian, publisher of the recent Turkish edition of JG, and founder of the Association for Liberal Thinking, an organization that promotes classical liberal values like free speech, private property, limited government, the rule of law, free markets, and civil society.
His tale was summarized by Heritage Insider last February, “During a scholarly talk in November of 2006, Atilla Yayla states that Turkey had been politically backward during the early years of its republic. Turkish authorities responded by prosecuting Yayla for violating a law against insulting Turkey’s founder, Kemal Ataturk. On Monday, a Turkish court sentenced Yayla to a 15-month suspended jail term. That could be considered mildly good news, since the prosecutor had asked for a five-year jail term.”
Writes Atilla of this turn of events, “As the punishment has been suspended it will not effect negatively my teaching at the university. However I will be under constant surveillance of the state and media. Therefore I will feel less free.”
Atilla was a visiting professor the past year at the University of Buckingham in England where my daughter, Kenli, will be studying economics this year. I’ve met several of the faculty and administrators at the university and found them to be strongly devoted to free market principles. Indeed, the university comes highly recommended as the only one in England that is independent of government funds.
Another great champion of liberty in Turkey is Birol Kovancilar (below right) an economics professor who boldly uses the Turkish JG in his classes despite the tidal waves it causes among his colleagues.
WALTER WILLIAMS & JOHN STOSSEL
In recent correspondence economist Walter Williams (below) wrote, “I’ve been meaning to tell you for some time that I think you’re doing fabulous work in the struggle for liberty.” I took the opportunity to obtain his endorsement for the next edition of the book: “When I think of Ken’s Jonathan Gullible, I think of my favorite author Jonathan Swift and his Gulliver’s Travels and his satirical examination of mankind’s cruelty and folly. Jonathan Gullible is a great read and makes the principles of liberty accessible, even possibly to those with alien and hostile minds.” “John Stossel believes The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible provides valuable lessons for us all.”
NEW ENGLISH EDITION
Kris Haladus also received permission to use this quote from journalist John Stossel (below): “The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible provides valuable lessons for us all.”
Kris is publishing a brand new, full-color, handsomely illustrated, hardcover, English edition of JG with audio CD! This is targeted to the youth audience in America, England, and the Commonwealth nations. Kris is a man of remarkable talents, developing a high-quality publication.
The play by Thomas Adedayo (belowt) has drawn considerable interest at universities in Nigeria. Dr. Samuel Ayedime Kafewo wrote to Adedayo saying that two students, Dan Aikoye Salifu and Clement Faiva Pembi of the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, are producing the play as part of their requirement for a masters degree. The Instructors are Prof. Dapo Adelugba, Dr Emmy Unuja Idegu and Dr Muhammed Inuwa Umar-Buratai.
Dr. Kafewo told me, “It is a pleasure to attempt to put this great work on stage. Never mind the recent upheavals in the capital market that is forcing a government bailout, free enterprise remains the best form of releasing the peoples’ creative energies to free themselves from poverty, squalor and want.”
Martin Bican (below) and Matúš Pošvanc (below), with the great editing assistance of Janette and Ray Eldridge, have adapted their fabulous multi-media Slovakian play to English. The Slovakian edition is ready for stage and theater production. It is a very humorous rendition of the JG storyline.
In addition, they found interest in the Jonathan Gullible Rap that was first written and produced for radio in Hawaii many years ago by Ryan Segawa and Ron Corpuz (left to right). Check here to listen to the great JG Rap.
ROMANIA, SLOVENIA, BOSNIA
A new Romanian edition of JG is soon to be released by Iulian Tanase of Libertas Publishing in Bucharest. In Slovenia, JG has been serialized monthly over the past year by Matej Steinbacher and the Free Society Institute. Sadly, the Free Society Institute has closed shop, but they are still seeking support for the funding of a new Slovenian edition of the JG.
And this from Shura Dumanic, “As I promised the Bosnian version of J.G. is available on ‘on-line.’ See my site: www.shuraedit.com, link to ‘on line publications’. For instance site is only in our language – it will be soon in English and in Italian, too. Are you interested to publish JG in Italian version? Maybe I can to do something.”
From Kathmandu, Prakash Thapa reported, “We had two book launch programs in Nepal recently…our presenters from Birgunj commented and renamed Jonathan Gullible to Jagannath Goule. Jagannath is a traditional Nepali name and Goule means ‘villagers.’ We wish we could organize a book launch and book discussion along with you one day in Kathmandu.”
The Nepali version of JG was launched in Biratnagar and Birgunj by the American Corners and the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu. The program was attended by local dignitaries, journalists, students, and intellectuals. The Public Affairs Director stressed the economic relevancy of the book in the context of Nepal.
Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute in New Delhi has published JG in English and Bengali. He reported recently that he was speaking to a translator about a Tamil edition. Shrikrishna M. Badiger also wrote saying, “I finished reading your book Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. It is the most wonderful expository of free markets and ideas of liberty I have ever read. I congratulate you on writing such a great work. I also enjoyed animation presentation of ‘The Philosophy of Liberty.’ I couldn’t stop myself from writing this email of appreciation for the work you have done. I come from Karnataka. Bangalore is the Capitol, which is far away from New Delhi. I plan to hand a copy of your book to people who are good at English and regional languages. If they like what is in the book, perhaps they are willing to coordinate with you for the translation of the book in Kannada and Marathi languages.”
ANIMATED PHILOSOPHY OF LIBERTY
Drew Suder is taking up the work of Steve Cobb and Mario Knezovic adapting the animated Philosophy of Liberty to another dozen languages. A totally new template is being refined and should be ready for easy adaptation of more languages by January. Any ideas or help for the website or animation should be emailed to Drew. The PoL animation is available in 6 different multimedia formats from Drew at: http://philosophyofliberty.blogspot.com/
Among these translations are Amharic (Ethiopia) by James McLaughlin, Chinese by Li Schoolland, and Hebrew by Dmitry Ostrovsky (left) who wrote, “My name is Dmitry Ostrovsky and last year I translated the PoL into Hebrew. I want you to know that my translation of JG (the book) is half way done.”
Another spectacular development has been the mix of the animated PoL with theater. Dean Harris (below) made this great offer: “I am a Grade 11 student, living in the small rural community of Erin, Ontario just outside of Toronto, Canada. As a firm believer in the principles of libertarianism, I am a huge fan of the work you have done with your Philosophy of Liberty, and forward the flash video to anyone who might be interested in the fundamental philosophies of liberty.”
“In Canada,” says Dean, “we have an annual theatre competition, called the Sears Drama Festival where over 12,000 students and their teachers enter their works in the competition, in various levels of competition (district, regional, and provincial). I would like to acquire your permission to create a stage adaptation of your Philosophy of Liberty, to enter in the Sears Drama competition. I intend on utilizing black lights, masks, and music to create a stage version of your impressive philosophy. Not only would it allow me to pursue my interest in stage production and direction, but more importantly it would provide another venue for me to spread the word about the principles of liberty, in a highly engaging and entertaining way.”
On top of all this, the PoL will soon have some new music. An offer from Saher (left) was eagerly accepted and arrangements have been made following this introduction: “I recently saw the Philosophy of Liberty on YouTube and found it to be a well-produced piece with a message I can get behind. From a musician’s perspective, my only disappointment was that the score was unconvincing and unmistakably MIDI generated – I believe the video would have had all the more impact were the quality of the score on par with the rest of the production. As such, I’d like to offer my services as a film composer as well as a songwriter for any future work you may do. Visit http://www.galtmusic.com/film for my film scoring work and http://www.youtube.com/sbgalt or www.myspace.com/galtmusic for my popular music.”
Dr. Khalil Ahmad, Director of the Alternate Solutions Institute in Lahore, Pakistan wrote of two developments: “This is to ask for your permission to translate JG into Sindhi, a local language of our Sindh province; the same language is also spoken in India’s Rajhastan also. The translation will be done by a Sindhi doctor and published by our Institute.” Also, “I am preparing the 2nd edition of our Urdu translation of JG. It is almost ready for the press. Please confirm: till now JG has been translated into 41 languages or more?”
Indeed, there are more than 50 editions of JG in 41 languages. What a great sign of success that the book is progressing into new editions in Pakistan and Romania.
“Breaking news: Khalil reports that the Sindhi edition is now published and available in Pakistan.”
Another second edition project desperately in need of sponsorship assistance is in Albania. Kozeta Çika recently wrote, “I am glad to tell you that Anthem by Ayn Rand is published in Albanian. Republishing JG will help me with my classes because I use photocopies for the moment, as there is no books left, except for a few copies in the library. It will also be helpful for the students of the new European University of Tirana, founded by the Liberal Circle two years ago. I have sent them copies of the Albanian version of Rand’s Anthem for their library, but I don’t have any spare copies of JG for them.”