New Ideas, New Leaders!
What is CCS Academy?
Centre for Civil Society is a public policy think tank advancing personal, social, economic and political freedoms. We aim to usher in an intellectual revolution that encourages people to look beyond the obvious, think beyond good intentions and act beyond activism.
CCS Academy conducts the educational and outreach programs of Centre for Civil Society.
Our work is based on the conviction that persistent and widespread social problems have their root cause in public policies that either interfere with or fail to support the operation of civil society—local communities and free markets.
CCS Academy Mission
The mission of CCS Academy is to inspire future leaders and change agents to pursue the vision of a free society by championing a liberal approach to public policy.
Ideas and Social Change
"We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage." —F. A. Hayek
Why do we offer courses on public policy and liberal philosophy? Because ideas rule the world. The political actions of today are the result of the intellectual debates of prior eras. Tomorrow's political possibilities will depend upon the ideas we cultivate today. If we want a more free, just, prosperous and peaceful world, ideas matter.
In his essay The Intellectuals and Socialism, one of the greatest philosophers of liberty, F. A. Hayek, argued that, in the long run, the world is governed by the ideas that people hold. To achieve social change, it is crucial to influence the public intellectuals who disseminate ideas to society.
One way to visualize Hayek's philosophy of social change is a model designed by Joseph Overton of the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy called "The Overton Window of Political Possibilities."
Overton Window of Political Possibilities
Imagine that all policies are arranged on a line from absolute government tyranny on the left to pure liberty on the right. At any one time, there is only a narrow "window" on the scale of policies that is considered politically possible or desirable. This is the area within which today's parties argue for more or less control. The goal of CCS Academy is not so much to influence the politics of today, which might move policy in a marginally more liberal direction, but to move the whole window of political possibilities in the liberal direction. Our hope is that in the future, what will be considered the "least liberal" option in political debates will be far more liberal than what is considered the "most liberal" option of today.
(For more about the practical success of Hayek's ideas, see John Blundell's Waging the War of Ideas)
CCS Academy Core Values
Our core values are our fundamental ethical commitments, which we do not sacrifice for short-term expediency. They define who we are and what we strive for.
- Honest and Open Communication:
- being open about what we think and feel while being committed to exploring others' points of view with genuine openness and care for their well-being
- initiating difficult conversations with honesty, courage, and empathy
- being upfront about our mistakes, weaknesses, and needs
- being critical of ideas with reasoned argument but never attacking those who disagree with us
- being open to learning the ways in which we are wrong
- endeavouring to make our actions consistent with our values and opinions
- endeavouring to make our ideas self-consistent
- following through on our commitments—our contracts and promises
- accepting our response-ability, our control over how we act in response to what happens to us
- being tolerant of peaceful differences
- not being prejudiced by race, caste, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, etc.
Liberal Approach to Public Policy
I. Individual Rights
"My right to swing my arm ends where your nose begins."
We believe that every individual is precious and should be given maximum scope to pursue his or her own dreams and interests. No one should control or enslave another; everyone should be free to do as he or she wishes so long as it does not harm the person or property of others.
"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" —J. S. Mill, On Liberty
II. Freedom of Exchange
"Whenever two parties trade voluntarily, both parties benefit."
The fabric of society is woven by individuals associating with each other for mutual benefit. Specialization and trade allow us all to increase our productive abilities and benefit from the unique interests, knowledge and capacities of the other members of society. Freedom of exchange means freedom to associate by mutual consent and to trade ideas and goods on mutually agreeable terms.
III. Rule of Law
"Where there is no rule of law, we are ruled by the whims of men."
A free society is based on the idea that each individual should be free from discretionary power and the arbitrary decision-making of others. No one should be "above the law"—not even members of government. The rule of law means equality under the law, i.e., general, predictable laws enforced equally on all members of society irrespective of social status, sex, race.
"Stripped of all technicalities, [the Rule of Law] means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand—rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in a given circumstance and to plan one's individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge." — F. A. Hayek The Road to Serfdom
IV. Limited Government
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you've got."
Government is the only organization allowed to use force in society. We believe that the use of such force should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that it should be limited to performing crucial social functions that individuals and associations cannot perform for themselves. Governments should protect individuals’ rights, enforce the rule of law, and provide a few basic public goods, but otherwise leave people free to provide for themselves and each other through civil society.