Mario Vargas Llosa and the Search for Liberty

In an op-ed that ran last week in the Wall Street Journal, Nobel laureate writer and Gala for Liberty honoree Mario Vargas Llosa defended his passion for individual liberty and lamented those critics—on the left and the right—who praise his novels but distance themselves from the pro-freedom ideals they represent. One reason for the disconnect, he argues, can be blamed on those who have championed the market economy without lending adequate support to civil liberties—or worse, have directly or indirectly supported their curtailment.

“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,” Vargas Llosa writes.

Vargas Llosa, who will receive the Alexis de Tocqueville Award at the Independent Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala for Liberty on November 15, also explained the difference between contemporary liberalism and true liberalism. He concluded by arguing that the tradition of open dissent in the United States and elsewhere offers reason for hope. “In Latin America, outside of Venezuela and Cuba, dictatorship of the old socialist and fascist varieties is dead, with market reforms sweeping even nominally leftist regimes,” he writes. “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.”

Literature and the Search for Liberty, by Mario Vargas Llosa (The Wall Street Journal, 11/8/11)

Mario Vargas Llosa: An Intellectual Journey, by Julio H. Cole (The Independent Review, Summer 2011)

Event: A Gala for Liberty, Honoring Mario Vargas Llosa, Lech Wałęsa, and Robert Higgs (San Francisco, Calif., 11/15/11)

[This post first appeared in the November 15, 2001, issue of The LighthouseTo receive this weekly email newsletter of publication summaries and event announcements from the Independent Institute, enter your email address here.]

Carl Close is Research Fellow and Senior Editor for The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review and editor of The Lighthouse, The Independent Institute’s weekly e-mail newsletter.
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