ESI presentation at Harvard: From liberalism to libertarianism? Georgia's revolution and the future of democracy in the Black Sea Area

19 April 2010
Carr - ESI


MONDAY, APRIL 19, 4:30 p.m.

Perkins Room (R-415), 4th Floor, Rubenstein Building,
Harvard Kennedy School, 79 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge, MA


Gerald Knaus, Carr Center Visiting Fellow and Chairman of the European Stability Initiative, is presenting ESI's most recent report on one of the most extraordinary stories of state building and economic reform in the post-Soviet world (on the eve of Georgian President Saakashvili's visit to Harvard).

The Georgian experience also raises questions about some of the most widely quoted international rankings.

It is today simultaneously (according to FP's Failed State Index) the most failed state in Europe and (according to the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index) one of the most business friendly in the world. It is a hybrid regime (for the Economist Intelligence Unit) and one of the most free societies in the world (according to the Heritage Foundation). So what can the world really learn from Georgia?


Reinventing Georgia: The story of a Libertarian Revolution.
Photo: flickr/Henning(i)

About ESI's Georgia Report (April 2010):

This report is about a remarkable man, a south east European country in a time of transition, and the power and influence of a seductive ideology. The man is Kakha Bendukize, a philosopher-entrepreneur and one of the most interesting thinkers in today's post-Soviet world; the country is Georgia, a small republic of 4 million people in the South Caucasus, eager to become a global model; and the ideology is libertarianism, the belief that people will be freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people's economic choices is minimised.

After a grim, post-Soviet decade, Georgia had captured the imagination of the world in November 2003 when a display of people power swept away the old political establishment. In its place came a new generation of leaders – young, articulate and determined to propel their small republic out of poverty and isolation and into the European mainstream. It is a leadership that has displayed enormous confidence in its ability to transform their country.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and former US President George Bush. Photo: NATO

This report looks at the promises of the Rose revolution, the way Georgia presented itself as a model for other countries, and the implications of its elites embracing libertarianism as a national ideology. The shaping of Georgia's current reform agenda risks deepening the divide between Georgia and the rest of Europe, leaving the country more isolated and vulnerable. It is time to take a closer look at the origins, the impact and the likely consequences of Georgia's ongoing libertarian revolution.