The following was written by a member of SFL’s network who has asked to remain anonymous.
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University authorities in my native country hardly encourage students to discuss innovative ideas like the free market, limited government, and entrepreneurship. After all, public universities are controlled by the one-party dictatorship and the atmosphere is quite static. Moreover, the majority of the students are not interested in these courses and the “good” students are only interested in exam marks. Although they are labeled good students, they only want to obtain good grades so they may pursue additional degrees. When you try to talk with them about John Locke or property rights, for example, they don’t care.
I also have friends in the “top” universities where the problem persists. These students too do not have an understanding of the free market, economics, limited government, or classical liberal ideas. The students who are more interested in entrepreneurship likely have already escaped from the ivory towers, but I doubt that these individuals are familiar with classical liberalism either.
Still, I can access the university libraries and find books written by Hayek and Friedman for my personal study. I also organized a small study group to discuss these topics, but I still could not understand the concept of liberty because the university system is still very centrally planned, maintains its totalitarian heritage, and contains secret police, usually comprised of students that receive a salary from the university to watch our actions silently. Once they discover that you are publicly against the Communist Party, you may not be able to graduate successfully or you may be threatened in other ways.
When we organized our study group of students hoping to better understand the social sciences, some of the students took to the streets and participated in a protest, but the secret police caught them. The police then went to their homes, searched their computers, and locked these young people in the police station for one or two weeks in secret and without a news report. Some of them were asked, “Did you get the funds from an overseas organization?” The secret police did not let some of the students sleep while they were detained. We were frightened and the study group was shut down.
Letting people have the space and liberty to learn about the free market and classical liberalism will benefit all of our people, including the people from the Communist Party itself.