Category Archives: Freedom

What our politicians can learn from the Hunger Games rules of persuasion

PANEM today, Panem tomorrow, Panem forever.” You need to watch the chilling new teaser for the next Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay. Its cool irony confirms the series’s remarkable journey from minor young adult diversion to cultural milestone. The series of thrillers is no cinematic masterpiece, but 30 years on from 1984 it is helping inoculate a new generation against the horror and seductions of tyranny. Continue reading

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Filed under Film, Freedom, Liberal education, Politics

It’s not enough for Tories to love liberty – Britain needs two parties of freedom

FREEDOM doesn’t get many shout-outs from politicians in today’s Britain. The hustings of the nation whose proudest boast used to be “it’s a free country” now echo with little but shades of paternalist reassurance. Have a problem? There ought to be a law to sort it out – and if you vote for us, by God there will be.

Disquiet at the major parties’ lack of interest in political freedom drove this week’s inaugural Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty, hosted in the City’s Guildhall by Conservative think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. It was cheering to hear a ringing Tory reaffirmation that liberty matters, but it is not enough. We need a cross-party equivalent. Continue reading

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Socrates and the euro elections: A democratic dialogue

SCENE: A LONDON BACK STREET…

SOCRATES: Hey, you there, why are you tearing up those placards?

ANGRY VOTER: It’s over, the racists have won. It’s a black day for democracy.

SOCRATES: Ah, you’ve been taking part in the recent election. I’m an immigrant from a fellow democracy myself, so I’m fascinated to understand your system better. Continue reading

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Why Britain needs a culture secretary who cares about liberty – not art

A CULTURE secretary from the Treasury – it is what John Maynard Keynes, the founder of the Arts Council, would have wanted.

That hasn’t been the mainstream reaction: Sajid Javid, newly-appointed to the Cabinet in the wake of Maria Miller’s departure, has been given a cool reception from arts quarters. A former banker, an economic policy wonk with no special interest in matters aesthetic – what sort of an ambassador for Britain’s culture is this?

Keynes saw it rather differently. The Arts Council began as an arm of the Treasury, at his request. The idea was simple: if you were going to do something as controversial as involve the state in funding art, the last thing you wanted was politicians getting involved. A corner of the Treasury was, he felt, just out of the way enough to prevent official interference. Politicians were qualified to distribute arts funding only if they could be trusted not to get involved. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Freedom, Politics

How one man battled the bureaucrats to save a billion lives

THE 1960s was a decade of explosive change, but the most important revolution wasn’t sexual: it was green. While Western intellectuals looked the other way, lost to well-meaning doom-mongering, one visionary saved a billion lives. Private foundations supported his work; rich governments’ aid programmes often thought it was wrongheaded. But Norman Borlaug (it’s pronounced Bor-log), born 100 years ago this week, triumphed anyway. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, History, Innovation

How open innovation will transform the Great British pound

Farewell to the pound coin’s familiar golden nugget design. Here comes the dough-decagon in its stead. The new 12-sided quid, modelled after the old threepenny bit, got plenty of attention this week. But the most interesting part of the design is what was left out. The flipside of the coin will be opened to a public design competition. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, Human nature, Innovation

Ghostbusters is the best case for capitalism you’ll ever come across

You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!” Harold Ramis, the writer of the endlessly quotable Ghostbusters, died this week. It’s a sad loss of a huge talent, a man with the rare gift for blending insight with popular entertainment. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Freedom, Human nature, Innovation

The robots are coming – only the power of human ingenuity can save our jobs

I for one don’t welcome our new robot overlords. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all in favour of the liberating potential of new technology. I’m also conscious that worries about jobs lost to mechanisation have a history of being misplaced: the jobs go but new and even better-paying ones appear elsewhere. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Freedom, Human nature, Innovation, Technology

Our digital technologies prove that freedom is more than just a rallying cry

Freedom isn’t just a rallying call, it is a practical way to transform the world for the better. Letting people make their own choices scorns the arrogance of narrow elites, preferring instead the riches found in every individual’s contribution. That seismic shift opens huge, untapped reserves of human potential. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Economics, Freedom, Politics

Why commercialism captures the true spirit of Christmas

It’s a shame all the shopping has to spoil the true meaning of Christmas. Or so we get told at this time of year, usually by the same prophets of good cheer who want us to celebrate the season by donning hair shirts and cutting back on the booze. Continue reading

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Filed under Christmas, Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature, Religion