Category Archives: Freedom

Iran’s female Fields medalist is a reminder of prosperity’s liberating power

Amid all the horror and hard choices dominating the global news this summer, it’s important not to miss the brighter trends as well. So it is worth taking a moment to salute Maryam Mirzakhani, who became the first woman to win a Fields Medal, the Nobel of maths, this week. Continue reading

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Filed under Freedom, Innovation

Forget free market selfishness: It’s socialism that turns us into liars and cheats

Markets make people better. Not many people seem to think so these days, but the idea got a boost from a recent piece of research by Dan Ariely and others, which compared moral behaviour in Germans brought up in East and West Germany.

The team found that those with an East German background cheated twice as much as those raised in the capitalist West. The East Germans regularly lied about their success on a task throwing dice. Older subjects, with more experience of life under socialism, cheated the most. Those who had lived for 20 years or more under socialism were 65 per cent more likely to cheat than West Germans. This supported earlier work showing East Germans approved far more of cheating on taxes, although that criminal propensity appeared to be eliminated after seven years of reunification. Continue reading

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Filed under Economics, Freedom, History, Human nature

Finding Garcia: It’ll take pluck to liberate yourself from micro-management

CAN YOU carry a message to Garcia? Do you even know what it means? The phrase used to be household currency, at least in America, but seems to have rather dropped from view. Yet since it was coined by an inspirational essay in 1899, it has been the subject of two feature films and it inspired an indie rock album as recently as 2009. It’s time for another revival. Continue reading

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Filed under Business, Freedom, History, Human nature

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