Brad Lips, CEO of Atlas Network: “France has no shortage of liberal heroes”

Posted on May 27, 2022



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During the European Freedom Forum in Warsaw, editorial staff debates She was able to meet important figures from the liberal movement such as Brad Lips.

Brad Lips is CEO of the Atlas Network, which works to increase opportunity and prosperity by fostering a global network of independent civil society organizations that advance individual freedom. He is a board member of the American Friends Society of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Institute for Economic Studies in Europe. As a member of the Société Mont-Pèlerin, Lips chaired the organizing committee for its general meeting in 2016. He is the author of Liberalism and Free Society in 2021As well as another study entitled The Freedom Movement: Its Past, Present, and Future.

This interview was conducted by Alexandre Massu, Editorial Secretary at debates.

Alexandre Masso: How did you get involved in the freedom movement? Why did you choose Defending Freedom as a career choice?

Brad Lips: During my teenage years, the superiority of free enterprise over communism seemed like common sense. Then-President Ronald Reagan was credited with demonstrating that people can thrive when the state does not intervene. But I must admit, I veered into what I might call a “modern, mindless socialist” in my early twenties—mostly because the music I loved in college was made by people seduced by Gramsci into thinking profit is evil. Growing up and finding a real job, I realized how illogical these criticisms were, but I knew they were still very compelling to many people of my generation.

As I read, I became particularly concerned about the unsustainable nature of the welfare state in the United States and many other countries. I have come to believe that in my lifetime there will be a debt crisis that will pose a historic challenge to the institutions of free societies. So I left a fairly well-paying job at the age of 26, because I knew it would be much more rewarding to help the good guys In the upcoming battle of ideas. I was young enough to take the risk of changing my career, and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you tell us what are the greatest current achievements and future plans of the Atlas Network?

I’ve been involved with the Atlas Network for nearly 24 years, half of them as CEO. I am very proud of the way we have evolved to better serve more than 500 independent partners around the world. Our Atlas Network Academy is the premier professional development program for people seeking maritime careers. Freedom Forum events on every continent are great for building a community among people who share a love of freedom. We’ve grown our fundraising so that every year we’re able to distribute more than $6 million in grants to our partner organizations.

One of our most exciting current projects is to show the impact of economic freedom on poverty reduction. We now have strong examples around the world of bottom-up efforts to remove barriers to institutions. The end result is a greater opportunity for ordinary people to improve their standard of living through their own efforts. My colleague Tom Palmer and Matt Warner have written a great book, development with dignityabout how our work in this area has lessons for creating foreign aid.

What is your main fear but also your main hope for the future of freedom in the world?

I fear that liberal democracy is threatened by the failure of our political elites. They have learned to benefit from polarization, regardless of the damage done to the customs, mores, and cultural institutions that form the basis of free societies.

However, I have great hope that ordinary people will wake up and realize how devastating this situation is.

This is the time to be part of the freedom movement, as we must provide a hopeful alternative to socialist authoritarianism on the left and illiberal populists on the right.

Let us rise to the challenge to show how tolerance, civility and compassion can flourish when we limit the role of the state in our lives and respect the dignity and freedom of every person.

Do you have any advice for people interested in freedom in France?

My advice is to be brave enough to think big.

Over the years, defeatism has been noted among many liberals in Western Europe. Of course, when you convince yourself of your inability to change history, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s think big for once.

If there is a glimmer of hope in the horror that Ukrainians are experiencing today, it is that the courage of Ukrainians has served as a wake-up call for all of us. The story is now unfolding. Now is the time for our liberal think tanks to be bold, to move forward and build a new consensus around the dignity of the individual, the free enterprise system as an engine of progress and the importance of the rule of law in ending nepotism and curbing excess government. There is so much to do, and France has no shortage of classic liberal heroes in its history. The question is: Who will be next?

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