13 February 2014

Liberty on the Rocks brings together freedom lovers around the world

Article originally published in the Indian Economist.

Interview with Co-founder and Executive Director Amanda Muell

Amanda Muell, a founder of Liberty on the Rocks, found herself disappointed with the limited options for socialization within the libertarian community. “The idea for the organization came about in 2008 when two colleagues and myself questioned ways to find younger libertarians in the Denver area. We all worked at the Independence Institute at the time, which is a free market think tank in Golden, Colorado. We were used to seeing people sixty and over at a majority of their events, which prompted us to consider organizing a happy hour rather than another lecture-based event.”

Starting with just fourteen people in a single bar in Denver, Colo., Liberty on the Rocks now boasts dozens of chapters across the world.

“The driving purpose is to connect and inform anyone interested or enthusiastic about libertarian principles,” says Muell. “We believe that a strong liberty movement requires passionate people, and to keep them involved you’ve got to make it fun. Relationships are also essential, as they can act as the glue that keeps someone coming to events and rethinking issues. We know that becoming a highly informed libertarian occurs over time, and usually after myriad books, videos and conversations. Liberty on the Rocks aims to keep people on that path of exploration until they feel fully comfortable talking to others about the philosophy of freedom.”
While most events are simple social gatherings, the scope of LOTR has grown with its success.

“Between 2012-2013, Liberty on the Rocks hosted nine educational workshops around the U.S. that focused on economics, philosophy and communications,” says Muell. “Local networks have also hosted speakers and guests like Larken Rose, Jeffrey Tucker, Robert Murphy, Radley Balko, and Stephen Kinsella, among others.”
Starting a local chapter of Liberty on the Rocks is a simple and rewarding process, Muell explains, “any libertarian-minded individual who wants to set up a [chapter] can start by going to www.libertyontherocks.org. From there they can get started creating their group online and organizing their first event. The national organization can help by providing an email address, and website along with a strategy call and/or email- based assistance where needed. From there it’s as simple as finding a local bar or restaurant, setting up a Facebook page, and marketing your events.”

The spread of Liberty on the Rocks has mirrored wider acceptance of ideas of liberty.

“There is no doubt the movement has grown over the last few years,” Muell explains. “It also seems to be younger generations that are the most enthusiastic about libertarian ideals, which is extremely positive. It used to be a small minority of mostly anti-social individuals, and was essentially devoid of women. Today those in the mainstream, both male and female of all walks of life, are flocking to this cause. And the beauty is that a majority of them just want to be left alone! This is refreshing to see, as political movements of the past tended to focus on imposing new rules and orders on the population.”

While Muell recognizes that government remains a major obstacle to the free market, she is enthusiastic about the Snowden leak, the increased popularity of Bitcoin and 3D printing, and the increasing push toward ending marijuana prohibition. “All of these present challenges to the government for different reasons,” says Muell. The first revealed to the American people just how much power the government has, and that it isn’t just used against discernible enemies. Secondly, technological innovations and services rivaling public monopolies, like 3D printing and Bitcoin, can make government a thing of the past by rendering their services obsolete. Finally, when it comes to marijuana legalization, the big win is the innocent people who won’t be going to jail for victimless crimes”

To capitalize on the expanding base of young libertarians, Muell emphasizes that “it’s important to stay connected to others who have similar values.”

“That doesn’t mean drop all your friends who aren’t libertarians, but please be sure to find some who are,” continues Muell. “It can be difficult to stay passionate about something you only hear others discuss on television or podcasts. To continue learning new ideas and discovering ways to live free, it helps to have friends who are doing the same. This also may be important one day when you decide to have children and want good role models in their life outside of you and your spouse. So go to events when you can and don’t be too shy to say hello to someone you haven’t met.”

There are countless opportunities for those interested in spreading the ideas of free markets and individual liberty. “As the movement grows, so do the ideas surrounding its advancement,” explains Muell. “Gone are the days when your only option was to join a campaign or run for office to be a liberty advocate. More people are finding there are other avenues they can take to be free. These can include educating the public on pertinent issues or inventing a new product or service to rival public monopolies. This is partly why more are joining the movement, because it’s not just about politics. Many libertarians are entrepreneurs, or everyday advocates who share ideas with friends and family, influencing those close to them. While short-term political victories can be positive and important for our freedom, so can technologies that may one day make governments obsolete. So if you love liberty, find what it is that you are most passionate about and go after it. We all have a purpose when it comes to advancing freedom.”