Mario Vargas Llosa on Liberty

Mario Vargas Llosa in the WSJ:

There are those who in the name of the free market have supported Latin American dictatorships whose iron hand of repression was said to be necessary to allow business to function, betraying the very principles of human rights that free economies rest upon. Then there are those who have coldly reduced all questions of humanity to a matter of economics and see the market as a panacea. In doing so they ignore the role of ideas and culture, the true foundation of civilization. Without customs and shared beliefs to breathe life into democracy and the market, we are reduced to the Darwinian struggle of atomistic and selfish actors that many on the left rightfully see as inhuman.

What is lost on the collectivists, on the other hand, is the prime importance of individual freedom for societies to flourish and economies to thrive. This is the core insight of true liberalism: All individual freedoms are part of an inseparable whole. Political and economic liberties cannot be bifurcated. Mankind has inherited this wisdom from millennia of experience, and our understanding has been enriched further by the great liberal thinkers, some of my favorites being Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, F.A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. They have described the path out of darkness and toward a brighter future of freedom and universal appreciation for the values of human dignity….

Many cling to hopes that the economy can be centrally planned. Education, health care, housing, money and banking, crime control, transportation, energy and far more follow the failed command-and-control model that has been repeatedly discredited. Some look to nationalist and statist solutions to trade imbalances and migration problems, instead of toward greater freedom.

…The search for liberty is simply part of the greater search for a world where respect for the rule of law and human rights is universal—a world free of dictators, terrorists, warmongers and fanatics, where men and women of all nationalities, races, traditions and creeds can coexist in the culture of freedom, where borders give way to bridges that people cross to reach their goals limited only by free will and respect for one another’s rights. It is a search to which I’ve dedicated my writing, and so many have taken notice. But is it not a search to which we should all devote our very lives? The answer is clear when we see what is at stake.

I am thrilled that Mario Vargas Llosa, Lech Wałęsa and economist Robert Higgs  will receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award from the Independent Institute (where I am research director) at our Gala on Nov. 15, these remarks were written for that occasion.

Comments

I finally want to read something by Mario Vargas Llosa. Which of his books do you recommend: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/mario-vargas-llosa-poll/ ?

I’ve never before read such utter rhetorical crap by Super Mario. But what can one expect. In February “he was decreed by King Juan Carlos I to become the 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa”, as the blurb of the libertarian Independent Institute grotesquely announces. The heir apparent to this royal title is his elder child Alvaro Vargas Llosa, another devout libertarian.

Will anyone at the lecture ask for what good reasons this pompous elitist lost to Fujimori in Peru’s 1990 elections, and why he actively (desperately) supported the militaristic, populist, dumbo puppet of the Chavez breed called Ollanta Humala against Fujimori’s daughter in Peru’s 2011 presidential election? Super Mario was better when he was a more humble afflicted human. I shall remember him (he is no longer worthy of recognition) for his older novels, and his genuinely afflicted Fish in the Water.

Somebody's got something to learn about the difference between hereditary titles and royalty. Guy, can you tell me the circumstance under which Sr. Llosa stands to receive the crown?

The rest of your post is even less meaningful.

A surprising prescription from a novelist: A moderate-liberal rational state with a central respect for artists/writers/culture.

Who saw that coming?

In Latin America it's not that obvious. Take Gabriel Garcia Marquez for example.

> Many cling to hopes that the economy can be centrally planned. Education, health care, housing, money and banking, crime control, transportation, energy and far more follow the failed command-and-control model that has been repeatedly discredited.

So single payer health care systems, central banking, public transport systems, management of basic energy infrastructure, and such have all been so much discredited? How can you quote that kind of nonsense without comment?

What you see with decentralized healthcare (US), decentralized policing (US), and decentralized central banking (ECB) is world of multiple out of control institutions all abusing the individual, not more freedom.

Lack of centrally regulated energy policy was behind BP oil spill as well.

the BP oil spill had more to do with oil executives having orgies and snorting cocaine off the asses of MMS chicks. when youre sleeping with the regulators, why would you worry about regulations?

What's a "MMS chick"?

I assume that's a reference to the Minerals Management Service

also central banking and health care systems are unequivocal failures, as well as government managed energy infrastructure. public transport systems get a pass, although with the amount of money thrown at it, i would still argue that theyre an example of just another failure.

Centrally regulated energy policy brought us natural gas shortages in the 1970's, as well as engineering gems like the $6 Bn Perry Nuclear Plant. Deregulation has brought us 3-D seismic, horizontal drilling, hydro-fracking, and ultimately-- $3.75/mmbtu NatGas fed into ever more-efficient combined-cycle generation. The BP Oil spill was gross negligence with an able assist from incompetent regulators. Centrally regulated energy policy is certainly no guarantee against accidents--just ask the families who live next to Fukushima. As for healthcare, I'd argue that government-introduced tax code distortions and Medicare/Medicaid fee-for-service arrangements are major contributors to our current mess--and that was before the addition of new regulations and entitlements with PPACA. At this point, Medicare/Medicaid/VA are greater than 50% of health care spend...hardly an unfettered free market. When you see "out-of-control institutions abusing the individual" there's probably a government-introduced market distortion involved, not a well-functioning market.

Regarding 3D drilling etc. how much of that was just the arrow of time? Is deregulation really the cause here?

I doubt the "arrow of time" would have created much change in an industry faced with the artificial price cap on NG prices which existed pre-deregulation. The R&D needed to create these techniques has been expensive (granted, the 3D seismic was made possible by advances in CPU and software as well--that might be a candidate for your "would have happened anyway" line of reasoning). But the fact remains--who would spend that much money trying to get "marginal" gas out of tight rock if there's no money in it? Contrast that with the regulated utility industry that can't be bothered to optimize coal blending or introduce combustion controls in coal plants. Take a tour of a nuke plant some time--you'll be shocked at the 60's-era control technology on display--but why change? No market pressure for many (but not all) of these plants.

sorry for the interruption but you got a chronic problem of "USA-centrism".

Vargas Llosa wrote about Latin America, so mind all the references to US healthcare, US banking, US whatever, thanks =)

"There are those who in the name of the free market have supported Latin American dictatorships whose iron hand of repression was said to be necessary to allow business to function, betraying the very principles of human rights that free economies rest upon."

Interesting accusations. Can he name one? Note: Uncle Milty and the CHicago boys explicitly didn't.

There were about 30,000 "desaparecidos" during general Videla's dictatorship in Argentina, under guise of protecting against communists, socialist, or other disruptive elements.
The same m.o. was present in every single latin american dictatorship.

About 100 under Pinochet's "Caravan of Death".

Do you not know any latin american history whatsoever?

These people wanted to defeat the commies, etc, but I didn't hear much about them saying they were trying to protect freedom. Maybe I read the wrong documents.

Could you provide me more links, I am interested in the subject.

Yeah, Ludwig von Mises. Great citation there. Then again, Mario seems almost as crazy as he is, so no surprises.

Also, is Vargas Llosa actually advocating privatization of crime control? When that happens, you start to get gang wars. Just dirty, nasty, gang wars. And should there ever be a winner, what you'll have is a dictatorship. You want to live in a place where "crime control" isn't public? Go to Somalia, the Shabaab controlled parts. Lets see how long you last there.

Furthermore, it's idiotic to say that public education has failed, or that energy generation should be deregulated. Please. Learn some economics before you start spouting this crap, Mario, there are many reasons there ought to be regulations or government control on those industries/services. It's called externalities/loss of competitive markets/really any market failure du jour.

Alex, you and the Institute should be ashamed of endorsing this idiocy. And Walesa, a great man, should be ashamed that he is receiving his award next to someone who wrote this garbage.

Care to share your definition of just what it would take to consider the public school system a failure?

It's very difficult to say because it would really necessitate a comparison to countries without public education, which hardly exist (and if they do, they are horribly undeveloped). If you know of any societies that have been succeeding without any form of public education, let me know, but I'd bet my house against the odds of that.

Appealing to the crowd is hardly convincing. Your dodge is suggestive.

Again. What precisely do you expect the institution of government-run schooling to deliver? At what cost? All I want is objective criteria.

Somalia must demonstrate the superiority of no public school system in creating a society that is inherently "a world where respect for the rule of law and human rights is universal—a world free of dictators, terrorists, warmongers and fanatics, where men and women of all nationalities, races, traditions and creeds can coexist in the culture of freedom, where borders give way to bridges that people cross to reach their goals limited only by free will and respect for one another’s rights."

Ditto for the lack of a centrally planned crime control.

If the lack of government were the key to the ideals of such libertarians, they would be flocking to a number of places where the US State department warns Americans to not go, perhaps because too much liberty exists resulting in "death to Americans".

"it’s idiotic to say that public education has failed"

Given the enormous differences between public education quality even among developed countries, surely you cannot say that all models of public education succeeded.

There are some nasty failures there.

Yes, but there's a big difference between saying "Public education has failed" versus "Some public education has failed"

What the libertarians can't get their heads around is human bio-diversity. Public education is a failure because its premise is that all children are equally educable. Where there are lots of smart kids, public education is great. Same thing with welfare states. If you've got a culturally and ethnically homogenous place with lots of g-loaded folks and plenty of natural resources lying around, social democracy is the end of history as far as you're concerned.

infantile wrt to everything,especially somalia.the presence of a state doesnt create nirvana.however prosperous and law-abiding a society is, adding an institution of organized violence and theft will only make things worse

grow up and stop being a pyromaniac in a field of strawmen.

Re: Ticket prices to the Gala: Are the decimals in the right places?

The gala dinner prices are crazy. Is "The Independent Institute" so noteworthy to get people to part with that kind of money?! The awardees may indeed be important personages but are they really that famous?

I attended one of their galas back in 2008 when I was an intern. I don't know how much prices per head have been raised since then, but yea back then they managed to get a whole lot of moneyed bay area folks to attend.

Watching Andy Garcia play the bongos during the reception was probably the highlight.

Interesting article to read. Thanks for sharing! Mdai

I is almost a miracle that a Latin American writer could be both a good novelest and a liberal. I am astounded at the anger this statement (too bad it is behind the WSJ paywall) generted here.

Sounds to me like your standard "classical liberal" pablum. Vargus Llosa blurs the distinction between "collectivists" (ie, anyone who's not a libertarian,) people who want a centrally planned economy (ie, fringe commies,) people who think the state should do things like education and highways (ie, anyone who's not a libertarian again.) Yawn.

guys, please understand that Vargas Llosa only talks about "America" (USA) when defines liberal and almost at the end when mentions "there is hope in USA".

the rest of the time the talk is about banana republics, ok?

Llosa's not the only one.

Austrian economics and Literature: http://theliteraryorder.blogspot.com

Poetry written by a libertarian: http://troycamplinpoetry.blogspot.com

Comments for this post are closed