Classical Liberalism Is Based on “Freedom as a Supreme Value”

(p. C7) Almost elected president of his native Peru and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa combines politics and the written word with a distinction that makes him a Grand Old Man, of whom there are far too few left in the world. As befits this status, he is a liberal in the classic sense that derives from the biblical injunction to do to others what you would have them do to you.

He was not always a liberal. As Mr. Vargas Llosa recalls in the beautifully and carefully written opening chapter of “The Call of the Tribe,” he had been a communist in the 1950s.

. . .

(p. C8) José Ortega y Gasset is introduced as “one of the most intelligent and elegant liberal philosophers of the twentieth century.”

. . .

Conceding that Ortega may have been naive, Mr. Vargas Llosa goes on to sign off this chapter with a personal ex cathedra statement: “Liberalism is above all an attitude toward life and society based on tolerance and respect, a love for culture, a desire to coexist with others and a firm defense of freedom as a supreme value.”

. . .

Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom” was published in 1944 but Margaret Thatcher, who read it as a student at Oxford, seems to have delayed until she was prime minister before making it compulsory reading for anyone with a sense of politics. She had found an authority for her conviction that central planning was incompatible with freedom.

For the full review, see:

David Pryce-Jones. “The Duty of a Liberal Intellectual.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023): C7-C8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date February 3, 2023, and has the title “‘The Call of the Tribe’ Review: Mario Vargas Llosa’s Dinner Party.”)

The book under review is:

Llosa, Mario Vargas. The Call of the Tribe. Translated by John King. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023.

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