We sat, engaging in a long brainstorming session over the matter. How to raise awareness against illiberalism, a plague that has stricken Hungary for a while now? We have written countless articles, organized numerous events, and spoke at many others. All our messages met with enthusiasm. But the minds of people didn’t need changing. They were on our side.
Already some time ago, Free Market Foundation realized that the best way to reach wide audiences from all walks of life is by producing videos. It is still important to engage a group of friends, but in the end, getting our messages across to people who don’t agree with us in the first place is a crucial element in the work of a think tank.
Therefore, we partnered up with another Hungarian organization, Paradigm Institute, with the aim of producing a series of videos on the importance of liberal democracies, market economies, and the dangers of totalitarian systems.
Our most popular content showcases the negative effects of illiberalism. I won’t lie, it took us a while trying not to preach. Because what exactly is the problem with illiberalism? After all, an average citizen probably won’t experience any setbacks first hand, and will thus view the recent developments featured in the news as hunky-dory.
Truth be told, living an average life, you’ll face average problems. Struggling to pay the rent, doing your best to get a promotion at work, and other usual issues. But scratch the surface and you’ll see that the reason why you can afford much less than the citizens of other EU member states and why the pace of development is much slower is due to the negative effects of a budding illiberal system.
Dive deeper, and you’ll find out that it is very difficult to find mainstream media that do not spew government propaganda and fake news. Similarly, if you dare to join a political party and run in an election, you’ll be hit hard by the rotting core of the system.
With videos like this, we can easily reach an audience of more than 10,000 people. More importantly, we are able to get in touch with young viewers from the 18-30 age group - which is the least politically active in public life.
Yet, illiberalism hits them the most. Many young people chose to leave the country in despair. Many experience the dwindling quality of education first hand. Many are about to have their first healthcare horror story.
Youngsters are the most important demographics, just as digitization is now the most important tool in communication. They are less likely to read an article, attend an event, watch conventional TV, and when was the last time anyone listened to the radio?
If there is no one to reach out effectively to youngsters, apart from the government propaganda they disbelieve, it is no wonder they remain inactive. And yet, in order to stop illiberal trends they, just like us, need to act.