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The Club of Right-Wing Apostles

by Thomas Schwendener
Two chief advisers to Donald Trump have launched a think tank for "global freedom" in Zug. At the founding event, the Swiss U.S. ambassador spoke about the "woke inquisition."
Right-wing liberal experiments : the club of right-wing apostles

By Thomas Schwendener
[This article posted on 1/18/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.woz.ch/2303/rechtsliberale-experimente/der-klub-der-rechten-apostel/!M4EQXWTQ8R36.]


"This is not a cocktail party, tonight the work begins," Scott W. Atlas implores the audience in the large hall of Zurich's Metropol restaurant. Under Donald Trump, Atlas was head of the pandemic task force; last spring, the radiologist traveled to the Limmat City to inaugurate his Swiss think tank: the Global Liberty Institute. Atlas has seen his liberty threatened by the "cancel culture" ever since he was publicly criticized by nearly a hundred professor:ins for his Corona trivialization.

Joshua Rauh, formerly Trump's senior economic adviser and the think tank's second co-founder, outlines the initiative's grand narrative at the Metropol, records of the event show: After the financial crash of 2008, both government spending and government powers would have increased - only to eventually get completely out of hand in the pandemic. In a "Great Reset," the state's claims to power are being pushed by elites from the cadre of the World Economic Forum (Wef). At the same time, the OECD is establishing a "tax cartel," while the International Monetary Fund is pushing for higher government spending, Rauh told the 150 or so visitors to the founding event.

The specter of socialism

The "Great Reset" - a crisis initiative of the WEF - has long been part of international conspiracy myths: the pandemic, he said, was orchestrated by a global elite to gain even more political and economic power in a new world order. The Global Liberty Institute's flagship paper does not go quite that far, but it too conjures up the specter of socialism: under emergency laws, the state has taken over large parts of the private sector, and it has no intention of relinquishing power even after the crisis.

The narrative is right in line with the Hoover Institution, where Atlas and Rauh conduct research. The influential conservative think tank at California's Stanford University was founded in 1919 by future U.S. President Herbert Hoover. Its purpose: "protection of the American way of life." This included, in particular, the "fight against socialism," which was to take a back seat after the Cold War. The think tank is financed by right-wing and libertarian billionaires, but also by the oil and chemical industries.

Working on a future elite

In Zurich, Joshua Rauh explained in libertarian pathos that they want to establish an international organization that stands for free markets and free people. The Global Liberty Institute is also intended to train the next generation of the private and governmental leadership elite, the founding duo said in late November on the conspiracy-savvy program "The Next Revolution" on the right-wing U.S. channel Fox News. In February, the first "rising leaders" are to be trained in a posh Florida hotel to restore "individual and economic freedoms" in the longer term. Zurich is then to be graced with a similar training event in November. The approach is similar to a successful strategy of the Hoover Institution, which provided about thirty staff members for the neoliberal restructuring under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Scott W. Atlas sees Switzerland, with its strong private sector and limited central government power, as a key partner in an international alliance against "unfreedom," as he explained at the founding event. In Zug and Washington, the two heads of the Global Liberty Institute, together with the founder of the investment firm Riverwood Capital, have registered a tax-exempt foundation. The small town in central Switzerland was chosen because it is a center for business and technology, writes Rauh on request. The foundation was taken over by the trust company Fidura, which belongs to the business empire of the recently deceased Hans Durrer. The latter had built up the SVP of the city of Zug in the nineties.

Atlas and Rauh mobilized prominent support. At the "Metropol," for example, Swiss U.S. Ambassador Jacques Pitteloud provided an official touch. In a video message, the former federal intelligence coordinator touched on the threat posed by totalitarian regimes, but focused on the danger from within. For the first time since the last witch hunt, books would be burned again in the U.S. - by right-wing and left-wing extremists alike. QAnon, but also the "woke inquisition" belong on the dung heap of history, Pitteloud explained, after all, "meaningless discussions about transgenderklos" would corrode the most powerful democracy in the world, while it is heading for a confrontation with totalitarianism. The manhunt for "woken" offenses acts as a cement between conservatives and the radical right.

But how did the Swiss ambassador come to the conference and to his topic? In response to a question, the foreign ministry simply said that Pitteloud had been invited and that it was part of the ambassador's duties to speak about topics such as democracy, dialogue and the search for consensus. The examples mentioned would reflect Pitteloud's personal opinion.

What kind of dialogue the Global Liberty Institute is striving for is shown by the occupation of one of the panels in the evening in the "Metropol". There, right-wing liberal financier Konrad Hummler sat next to economist Reiner Eichenberger, who likes to play SVP terrain in the media. The Fribourg economics professor is a member of the Global Liberty Institute's twelve-member Expert:in Panel. The otherwise camera-happy Eichenberger responds to a question with general remarks about the importance of independent liberal institutes and refers to Rauh. The latter calls the economist a "perfect match."

If Rauh's grand announcements are to be believed, a network is to be created around the Global Liberty Institute that is "ready for the next crisis." At a second event at the Casino Zug in October, according to the program, nuclear power lobbyist Irene Aegerter was joined on stage by Zug SVP government councilor Heinz Tännler.

Second foot in Switzerland

However, the initiative does not seem to be falling on particularly fertile ground in this country. He had already been asked to participate in 2021, says Konrad Hummler, but because of his numerous commitments he declined and took part in the first panel instead. He is currently observing the development of the organization. A fragmentation of "liberal think tanks" would not be expedient, says Hummler. So far, the institute has not been able to recruit any additional staff in Switzerland; apart from Eichenberger, no people have been signed up, says Rauh. Nor have any speakers yet been engaged for the events planned in Switzerland on "Woke Corporatism" and "Defending the Free World.

The Hoover Institution, which towers over the elite Stanford University in a fifteen-story tower, is thus far from having the same charisma. But the conservative think tank from California already has a second foot in Switzerland. The British historian Niall Ferguson, who also conducts research at Stanford and is now also an expert at the Zug Institute, was brought on as an advisor to the Institute for Economic Policy (IWP) at the University of Lucerne last year. This was founded with the help of funds from two tax-shy billionaires from central Switzerland (see WOZ Nos. 51 + 52/21). Ayaan Hirsi Ali also spoke at the IWP in autumn, of course about "Wokeism". The Hoover researcher is now also on the Expert:inside Council of the Global Liberty Institute. However, Rauh assures that there is no cooperation with the IWP. His institute is a private initiative.

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